A Gym Rat’s Secrets to Preventing Muscle Injuries

image of man working out at the gym.

You can’t predict muscle injuries. One day you’re exercising at the gym and the next moment you’re feeling a sudden pain. Without attention, the entire situation can go south.

Preventing Muscle Injuries

Pushing your body too hard often means that you’re risking yourself to get hurt. Still, if you’re properly training yourself and monitoring your activity, you can decrease your chances of muscle injury. The following are six helpful tips that you should implement when working out.

1. Use a TENS and EMS unit.

Resting doesn’t always mean lying in bed. Using a TENS and EMS unit helps with muscle recovery after a long hard workout. These devices are actually so powerful to athletes as many practitioners use them to treat patients with muscle ache. It works by sending low-voltage pulses to prevent the pain signals from reaching the brain. With that said, it also stimulates the production of endorphins which is the natural feel-good chemicals in the body.

2. Monitor your vitamin levels.

It is very common to be deficient in vitamin D. In fact, about 77% of Americans need more of it. The role of vitamin D is crucial as it helps with muscle function like protein synthesis and electrolyte balance. With electrolyte imbalance, this can result to injury and fatigue. Also, when proteins are not synthesizing, this impedes muscle recovery. Vitamin D is so important that being deficient could affect performance and strength. Optimally, 258-hydroxy vitamin D blood levels are around 40-50 ng/ml. If you’re an athlete, you should be taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D every day. Of course, we suggest consulting with a physician if you’re planning on consuming high-dose vitamins.

3. You should under-stretch

The saying, “stretching prevents injury” is one of the greatest myths in the sports industry. The truth is, aggressive stretches can actually decrease performance and cause muscle damage. This is especially true for those individuals participating in an intense workout since it can shock the muscle by sudden exertion or force. As a result, this gives you the higher risk of tearing your muscles. As a good rule of thumb, always keep your warm-ups quick and skip the Toe Touches.

4. Start using a functional movement screening

A Functional Movement Screen is one of the most popular devices for injury prevention. This is a battery of seven scored drills that measures the individual fitness and fatigue levels. Low test scores and signs of asymmetry could mean weakness and mobility issues. If you happen to be imbalanced, your muscles could compensate for the weakened tissue which can ultimately cause injury because it’s been overworked. In fact, about two-thirds of soccer teams work with FMS to prevent injuries.

5. Use a heart monitor.

When you want to monitor your fitness level, it’s best to look at your heart rate variability. Ideally, the higher your variability, the better. Those with low HRV means overtraining and fatigue which can lead to muscle injury if you’re training at a pace that your body can’t keep up with.

There are many devices that monitor your heart rate such as watches or smartphones. Monitor your heart rate and recover when you’ve reached 125 beats per minute after an intense session. As you continue training, this rate will decrease faster meaning that your cardiovascular fitness is getting better.

6. Try irregular strength exercises.

To most athletes, a torn hamstring and other muscular injuries is a proven issue to their sports, and this can lead to extensive loss of play time. There is an abundant amount of eccentric workouts such as Nordic Hamstring Curls that can prevent injuries. Such activity trains your muscles to maintain tension and strength while they lengthen. As a result, this assists in preventing tears that often happens when the muscles are suddenly elongated. This training can also help absorb intensive force.