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Training for Injury Prevention
Strong muscles keep you balanced, mobile, lessen your chance of injury, and keep bones healthy.
All truth be told strength is just the tip of the iceberg for fitness. Here is what is hiding under the water.
We talk about strength like it is one thing alone but what we really need to consider are the prerequisites. To gain strength you first need to develop mobility and flexibility. These two things are the main restrictions of strength and if you have a limitation in either you will not be able to access your full strength capability.
There is also another prerequisite to strength. Endurance. Think of this as the communication and education that the muscles need to be able to create for the safe execution of strength-based movements. When you have worked on these skills you will have now earned the ability to do strength training exercises. Skipping these steps creates an unstable version of exercise and will strongly increase your chance of injury.
Safety should be the top priority. The body is the number one feedback system we have for safety. If something does not feel right your body is telling you to pay attention. If the next day you feel pain in any of your joints your body is trying to tell you something. If you get frustrated because it feels like the exercise is not working like it should, your body is also telling you something. All of these are signs that you need assistance before proceeding any further.
When it’s time to exercise there are two ways to go about it and I would include both as they have great benefits. Functional strength training (activities such as squats, lunges, core exercises etc.), and traditional exercises (leg press, bench press, seated rows, leg raises and so on). Regardless of which exercises you choose, the general rule is that you will be doing 8-10 repetitions of the movement and in the last few reps you should feel like you are working hard. For maximum strength training you should be pushing the muscles to their maximum ability. Just getting started? Have a professional create the program for you and work alongside you for executing the program, until you are confident enough to do it by yourself.
My final tip: the cost of working a muscle is always tightness; so, always include stretching because injuries are caused by tightness.
Please note, all exercises are general and can vary drastically depending on individual health concerns or mechanics. If you feel pain or if something does not feel right to you please discontinue and seek further guidance.
Targeted muscles: front and back of upper leg, back of lower leg, core
Instructions: Take one big step forward with the right foot. Slowly bend your knees making sure the front knee does not go over your toes. Hold for at least 3 seconds if possible. Step the feet together. Repeat starting with the left foot. Tips for form and technique: The feet should be slightly staggered. Both knees should be roughly at a 90 degree angle. Make sure you feel balanced, with your weight evenly distributed.
Targeted muscles: abs and core
Instructions: Laying on your back on a mat slowly tighten your core and start to lift your upper and lower body up off the mat. Only go as high as you can. Hold for approximately 3 seconds with control. Slowly return to starting position. Tips for form and technique: Similar to a crunch but no momentum is used.
Targeted muscles: chest area, back of upper arms, core
Instructions: Make sure your elbows line up with your shoulders. Slowly lower your body towards the ground. Elbows should line up over top of your wrists. Stop before you chest hits the ground and push up keeping your core engaged. Tips for form and technique: Your core should be engaged, this should stop any strain from going into your lower back. Pay attention to your form to ensure that the proper muscles are activated . For a modification you may use a wall or bench to perform the exercise until you build your strength up.
One Leg Balance
Targeted muscles: ankle stabilizers, back of lower legs, core
Instructions: Start close to a wall or have something to hold on to for balance support. Keeping your weight balanced on one leg slowly lift the opposite leg. Hold this position for about 30 seconds without having to hold on to the wall or put your leg down. The supporting leg should only have a slight bend in it at all times. Switch legs and repeat. Tips for form and technique: Take notice of how much your ankle is moving and the rest of your body as well. Keep all movement to a minimum. One leg is normally stronger than the other so keep working on both until they are equally as strong.
Noel Miller is the founder of Design Fitness in Toronto. He has over a decade of experience in the healthcare field in areas including massage therapy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, sports coaching, athletic development, athletic therapy, sensitivity training, and leadership development. Noel’s Certification and Education includes: an Advanced Diploma in Exercise Prescription, CSEP-CPT, Jumpstart Muscle Activation, CAM HD, ELDOA 1, Joint Mobilization technique, Myofascial Release, Hormones and Exercise, IMM certificated, and acupressure technique. Visit: designfitness.ca.