10 Tips for Injury-Free Home Workouts
Staying Fit While Social Distancing During the Winter Can Be a Challenge
This past weekend’s snowstorm, Spokane’s first of the season, is a good reminder that many of us will be exercising mostly indoors this winter. Besides the weather, COVID-19 pandemic social distancing forces people to choose home workouts instead of the gym. Finding ways to add exercise to your daily routine has many benefits, including improving your mental health, helping you control your weight, strengthening your bones and muscles, and improving your sleep.
From yoga and core training to weights, resistance training, treadmills, and stationary bikes, the options for home workouts are as vast as your imagination. Some exercise programs require specialized equipment, and others like yoga and walking require minimal investment. While we encourage exercise to maintain overall health, we understand that many orthopedic injuries occur when people start an exercise program or doing something new. Whether you choose to start working out at home, or you’ve done it for a while, here are ten tips to remain injury-free this winter.
10 Tips to Stay Injury-Free
1. Use quality equipment.
Investing in good equipment is an investment in your health. We should be confident our equipment is durable, safe, and easy to use. Read product reviews and get your friend’s advice. Be leery of trendy products or those advertised on infomercials.
2. Wear appropriate footwear.
The right footwear is essential because it aligns and positions the rest of your body as you exercise. Use footwear appropriate for the sport. Purchase footwear from a reputable source, preferably in-person instead of online, so the on-site experts can check the fit. See your orthopedist if you need custom orthotics.
3. Position a mirror to keep an eye on your form.
In-person exercise classes allow the instructor to assess and re-position you to avoid injury. When working out at home, use a mirror to keep track of your alignment as you exercise. Some of the newest options on the market include smart gyms are MIRROR, and Tonal.
PRO TIP: Focus on executing the exercise well instead of fast or repetitively. Repeat the movement slowly until you are confident of your alignment and positioning. It’s hard to break a bad habit. Practice. Practice. Practice.
4. Warm-up and cool-down properly.
Your warm-up and cool-down are just as important as the rest of your workout. In a 60-minute workout, focus the first 10 minutes and last five minutes on warming up and cooling down, respectively. When long-distance runners train, the first and last miles are the hardest AND the most important. Runners know that they can’t run well without warming up. Cold ligaments and tendons can tear and strain easier. Imagine trying to stretch a cold rubber band — it breaks instead of stretching. The same goes for your ligaments.
5. Stay hydrated before, during, and after your workout.
Hydration starts the night before your workout and continues into the night after. Consuming water right before your workout will tame your thirst, but it robs your body of the water it needs since our bodies must have time to get that hydration to our muscles, ligaments, and tendons, which soak it up like a sponge.
6. Increase your workout by only 10% each week.
The AAOS recommends that people start slowly and build gradually. Setting goals is a great motivator, but loft goals can be demotivating. Our bodies are amazing, but we can only push them so far. A 10% weekly increase means that a person running ten total miles one week, we should limit it to 11 total miles the following week, then 12.1 miles, and so on. Strong muscles. Fewer injuries.
7. Vary your workout.
Alternating between cardio and strength training improves overall health and reduces your chance of injury from overuse.
8. Pair up with someone in your household.
Working out with a partner can help you stick to your routine. For many people, friendly competition is motivating. Many fitness apps allow you to create challenges with friends. Some popular apps include FitBit, MyFitnessPal, Fitbod, Lifesum, or MapMyFitness. Choose the app that fits your needs and budget.
9. Give yourself down days.
Our bodies cannot be at peak performance 24/7. A good workout will push your muscles to the limit, creating small tears that need to heal to become stronger. Constant workouts don’t give your body time to heal, so it is always working in a deficit. Take a down day a week and allow yourself to heal your muscles. Your body is doing a surprising amount of work even though it is not actively working out.
10. Reward yourself.
Working out with your family is fun and motivational, but you’ll also need to reward yourself. There may be days when working out is the farthest thing from your mind. If you’ve set goals and rewards for yourself, you’ve been more inclined to follow through on your workout. And don’t be too hard on yourself. Have some backup activities you can do when your body is not feeling up to your regular exercise.
We encourage you to start a workout routine that fits your lifestyle. Above all, check with your healthcare provider to make sure any workout is appropriate for your fitness level. Specifically, your orthopedist and physical therapist can provide exercises for your spine, hips, shoulders, knees, ankles, and much more. The resulting energy, motivation, and immune benefits you’ll see in just a short time are worth it. Your body will love you for it!
NOTE: NWOS does not endorse any of the products mentioned in this article and only supplies this information for patients to conduct their own research. For specific questions, please contact your orthopedist.