How to avoid injuries while exercising

By Joan Salmon

Ismail Sina of Sina Fitness defines physical activity as body movement produced by skeletal muscles using energy obtained from the food we eat. He adds that there are two types of physical activity: aerobic and muscle strengthening activity.

Aerobic activities make you breathe a little harder leading to an increase in lung and heart muscle fitness. They can also be either moderate or high and include brisk walking, cycling, swimming and dancing. Muscle strengthening physical activity, also known as strength training is designed to work on major and minor muscles of the body such as chest, back, legs, arms, shoulders, and calf.

While these activities are beneficial, one can get injured in the process, says Usher Shubu, a fitness trainer at Paradise Fitness City in Kamwokya. He gives some ways one can avoid injury.

Warm-up and cool-down
Shubu says every workout should begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down period. A warm-up helps your body get ready for exercise. It gradually increases your heart rate and loosens your muscles and joints. Warm-ups could include riding an exercise bike, skipping or jogging in place for five to 10 minutes.
After working out, a cool-down slowly brings your heart rate back to normal. Walking for five to 10 minutes after you work out is one way to cool down.

Sina says one should do dynamic stretching before and after a workout since this will increase flexibility. However, research is conflicting as to whether it can also help prevent injury. It is best to stretch after warming up and cool down.
“Start slowly and gradually build up the intensity, duration, and frequency. Do not push yourself too hard. As your fitness abilities increase, you will be able to challenge yourself more,” he says.

According to Shubu, you must vary your workout to avoid overworking one set of muscles. Repeating the same muscle movements frequently can lead to overuse and repetitive-use injuries such as shin splints and tendinitis. Some ways to vary your workout include running on the first day, lifting weights on the second day and swimming or cycling on the third day.

Know your trouble spots
Tailor your workout for problem areas. For example, if you have arthritis in your knees, you will want to build up strength, but do not do exercises that hurt. Check with your doctor and make it a point to start out lightly.
“The “no pain, no gain” philosophy can set you up for injury. You can get fit without feeling pain. Do not push yourself to the point of pain, if you feel pain, you may be injured. Stop your workout, and rest for a day,” Sina says.

How to treat a workout injury
Injuries can happen, no matter how careful you are. Ismail Sina of Sina Fitness, says if you develop an injury, use the RICE method to treat the injury before it gets worse:
• R: Rest the injury.
• I: Ice the injury to prevent swelling, bleeding
• C: Apply a compression bandage to minimize swelling.
• E: Elevate the injury, if possible, to reduce swelling.

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