Zionsville Times Sentinel

September 19, 2012

Exercise injury prevention

By Mark Moreland/Times Sentinel columnist

— I love the increase of motivation and activity I see when autumn rolls around.

School promotes a more regular schedule, the weather is wonderful for exercising bodies, “eating” holidays are three months away and people are excited to move.

It’s a time of year I can back off the “motivational” speeches and ride the fall fitness frenzy. With this increase in activity also comes the potential for an increase in aches and pains, so my new concern and point of care for exercisers during this surge becomes injury prevention. Use these tips to help avoid physical set-backs to your fitness momentum.

• Start Slow. Improving your body should be progressive and increase in intensity over time. If you haven’t been exercising or are ramping things up, move forward slowly to allow your body time to adapt and improve. This is especially true for the connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) and bones that make up your joints; which don’t adapt as quickly as muscles. Give them time to heal after exercise. You can always go harder the next time.

• Learn about pain. Pain is a great educator. When it comes to movement, pain is how we collect information about our bodies and how they are operating, so it is important to know the difference between constructive pain and destructive pain. Constructive pain presents itself as a “burning” sensation that accumulates slowly during exercise throughout an entire muscle, and then subsides after activity ceases. Destructive pain comes on instantly, is extremely intense and specific to a small area. This type of pain will often stick around after you’ve stopped the movement as well. In both cases, heed the intensity of the signal, but make sure to collect more information when destructive pain is involved and consider modifying the activity, or stopping for the day.

• Rest. The goal of exercise is to break down body tissue and then allow your system to regenerate itself while you are resting. If you remove rest, you will always be in a state of breaking your body down; and not only will you be discouraged and disappointed with your results, but you can create a chronic problem that changes how you move for the rest of your life. Take days off to fully benefit from your effort. Note: even God rested after He worked. Probably not because He needed to but to be a good example.

• Nutrition. To build a great structure, you must use quality building materials, and this is no different with your body. Your results and body condition are directly related to your food choices. To grow great tissue and speed up healing, pay particular to your intake of these items:

            • Water — aids in all rebuilding processes and joint health

            • Vegetables — colorful veggies like spinach and broccoli supply vitamins, minerals, and oils essential for healthy tissue repair

            • Protein — lean proteins like fish and nuts supply the primary building blocks for cellular repair and omega oils, which help with inflammation.

Nothing stalls out fitness momentum like getting hurt. A nagging elbow, achy knee, or sore back is a total buzz-kill to your new-found activity level, so be wise. Listen to your body and supply it with what it needs to rebuild itself. Prevention is the best solution to avoiding injury and staying on track to achieve your fitness goals.

Mark Moreland is the owner of Body Outfitters Personal Training Studio in Zionsville and has 13 years of experience as a personal trainer. He can be reached at mark@bodyoutfitters.com.