June is Men’s Health Month. It’s also the time of year when many men become more active. The warm temperatures and long days make it easier (and more fun) to play on a softball team, tend to the yard, or start a new exercise routine, like biking or swimming. But after months of rest, the sudden explosion of activity can wreak havoc on the body.
If you’re about to ramp up a new summer workout, keep these injury prevention tips in mind:
1. Get Professional Help
If you are new to exercise, or just haven’t been active in a while, see your doctor for a physical to make sure you are healthy enough to take on strenuous activity. Also consider hiring a professional trainer or coach who can teach you proper form and technique.
2. Wear Proper Clothing
Always wear appropriate footwear. Not only will you be more comfortable, but you will also be able to alleviate undue stress to your ankles, knees and hips by providing much needed support. Also choose appropriate clothing that fits well, allows you to move naturally, and doesn’t interfere with your safety.
3. Warm Up
Never start a workout in full throttle. Begin slowly and build the pace. This gets the blood flowing to your muscles gradually, giving them time to warm up and acclimate to the activity. This also gives you time to listen to your body and identify any aches or pains that may be red flags to more serious problems.
4. Leave Your Ego At The Door
Many men start a workout program thinking too much about what they should be able to do rather than what they are honestly capable of at the time. Attempting too much too quickly invites injury. So, take the pressure off. Concentrate on your individual progress rather than comparing yourself to or competing with others.
When your muscles have warmed up, stretch. Many men skip this part of a workout. After all, stretching is for girls, right? But, as your muscles get stronger and tighter they start pulling on one another. Eventually, this tug-of-war affects your body posture and you start to feel aches in your back, hamstrings, and shoulders. These minor aggravations can turn into serious problems, all preventable if you take the time to stretch.
6. Take A Day Off
Rest is important. It gives your body time to recuperate and repair. If you’re just starting an exercise program, make sure you take two days off each week. Listen to your body and respond accordingly. Pain and fatigue are subtle signs of overtraining that can lead to more serious problems.
7. Eat Well
Pay attention to nutrition. In order to maintain healthy energy levels and have the physical endurance to push through tough workouts, you need to fuel your body with good, healthy food. Avoid high-fat foods and sweets and drink lots of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.