Avoiding Injuries while Exercising

barbell lifting

In addition to the target heart rate, you can measure you can measure your perceived exertion to know the intensity of your exercise. Dr Gunnar Borg, Emeritus Professor of perception and psychophysics at Stockholm University, Sweden, introduced the field of perceived exertion in the 1960s. The Borg Ratings of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPES) uses your own judgment to gauge how hard you are working out in every effort, breathlessness and fatigue level. The scale ranges from 6 to 20. On the scale, 6 represent your body at rest and 20 represents the maximum effort.

Light exercise like walking slowly at your own pace falls at 9. Somewhat hard exercise rates at 13 when you feel the signs of working out and it is all right to continue with it. When you are exercising very hard it ranks at 17. The exercise becomes strenuous and you feel very tired and you push yourself. A moderate activity or a rating between 12 and 14 is optimal. You can judge yourself by using talk test, target heart rate and your perceived exertion to measure the intensity of your workouts.

Borg Ratings of Perceived Exertion Scale (Gunnar Borg, 1998)

6                                              No exertion at all. At rest
7,8                                           Extremely light
9                                              Very light
10,11                                       Light
12,13                                       Somewhat hard
14,15                                       Hard (heavy)
16,17                                        Very hard
18,19                                       Extremely hard
20                                            Maximal exertion

Avoiding Injuries

Warming up and stretching is necessary before you begin. A warm-up prepares the body for any exercise; it diverts blood flow to the muscles that you will be using. Proper exercise can reduce the chances of injury especially tendonitis. Training is important for physically demanding sports. Learning the right technique in sports is very essential in preventing injuries.

Exercising at least five days a week puts you at a less risk of injury as compared to when you turn into a ‘weekend warrior’ or exercise only during weekends. Good equipment helps in preventing injuries, for instance, experts advice on wearing proper sports shoes or footwear. Certain sports need   special shoes and equipment such as head protection or helmet for cycling and horse riding, eye protecting for squash or a racquet of the right weight or a right grip size, etc.

In case of any pain, stiffness, swelling: try to modify the exercise routine. Begin slowly and raise your activity level gradually. Boredom and loss of balance are two factors, which give rise to injuries. Get a mix of all exercises—cardio, strength training or flexibility to make your exercises interesting. Add any new exercise with care and try not to take on too many activities at one time. In case you are inflicted with arthritis, earlier stress fracture or any previous injury; be very careful with your fitness routine or else the previous injury can get aggravated.

dumbell plates

Exercise Injuries

Learn the correct technique while exercising in order to avoid injuries. Warm-up and stretching is a part of the exercise regimen. Exercises for both strength and endurance need to be balanced with rest. Muscle strength can be improved with weight-training. However, incorrect lifting of heavy weights can cause injuries to the spine and knees.

With any exercise, injuries can happen. There can be acute injuries, which include a sprained ankle or a torn muscle or a ligament. There can be bleeding, swelling and pain. For acute injuries, apply first-aid immediately and stop the activity. Try not to massage or use heat on an injury as this may increase blood flow and may increase bleeding and swelling. Cold or ice compresses over the injured area can help. Cold running water too can be used in case ice is not available. For foot or leg injuries elevation helps in the reduction of swelling.

Excessive exercise or unaccustomed exercise can cause over-use or chronic injuries. An over-use injury varies from person to person. It is therefore important for you to build up gradually. By changing the activity that has caused you the injury or changing the equipment or making adjustments to your technique can help you recover.

Let your injury heal completely before you start again. In case of swelling redness, bruises or pain, the injured part needs rest. Pain-Killers can help ease the pain. Anti- inflammatory medications lessen the inflammation. Your doctor may request an x-ray or either medical or surgical treatments.

A physiotherapist may be able to advice about specific exercises. You may be advised to wear a brave or a strapping bandage, etc. As you begin your exercise, remember that any exercise that you opt for should not give you any pain. Slowly get back to your normal exercise routine.

Moderate Activity is a Must

Most health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day. Moderate exercise, whichever you choose should slightly raise your heart rate; make you breathe as hard as you do during a brisk walk, without breaking into a sweat. To motivate yourself to stick to exercising, choose a physical activity, which you enjoy. Start out slowly and make it a daily routine.

Begin now and you shall reap the benefits in future. Drop that laziness and adopt a routine exercise program. You have plenty to choose from. You and your family can live a happy, healthy long independent life free of illnesses.

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