By Christine Hill
We work out for a lot of different reasons. For some of us, it’s to improve our heart health and live longer. For others, it’s so that we can fit into a certain dress. Still others do it as a form of stress release.
Have you ever thought about exercising in order to prevent injury? Exercise improves our muscle memory, fine coordination, our strength, and balance. It can also alleviate aches and pains. Here are some ways that exercise prevents the most common complaints, injuries, and accidents in the country.
Many headaches are caused by pressure and tension. And others, while they may not be caused by tension, can be relieved by relaxing the physical pressure on the head, neck, and shoulders. I’ve noticed that many of my headaches occur when I’ve been working at a computer for days on end, and I’ve been lax in keeping my back straight.
Proper posture includes the following:
- shoulders back
- feet evenly on the floor
- ears aligned with your shoulders
- chin neither high up nor low down
- stomach tucked in
I’ve read plenty of posts and seen videos about having proper posture, but what most of them don’t tell you is that proper posture requires a certain level of back and shoulder strength. If you’re completely lacking in the right muscles, maintaining proper posture can get tiring. However, if I’ve been doing my yoga properly (with all those downward dog poses), proper posture is easy and natural… and I have much fewer headaches!
- Planks: In a four-point position (on your hands and knees), place your hands shoulder-width apart, and your knees hip distance apart. Lift your knees, moving your weight instead to your toes on the floor, and hold this plank position for 10 seconds at a time. You can also try the same exercise with your elbows on the floor instead of your hands.
- Desk push-ups: Take a few minutes at work to work out your arms and shoulders. Step back from your desk, and with your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the desk before you, lower your chest to the desk and away again.
- Y-Raise: On a workout ball, lay forward on your stomach with your feet on the ground. Lift weights in each hand (5-15 lbs) up so that you’re making a “Y” shape with your arms.
- Shoulder Stretches
For Knee Injuries from Running…
Nearly 80% of runners suffer from some kind of running injury. While running keeps our heart healthy and our muscles strong, the jarring impact is sometimes too much for our knees, feet, and ankles. However, proper strength training can prevent problems that runners are prone to, and ensure that they’re getting effective benefits from their running regime.
First of all, remember that warming up and stretching are an essential part of every workout. Secondly, learn more about proper running technique to avoid the biggest pitfalls and mistakes. Thirdly, do these exercises regularly to prevent injury.
- Wall sits: Stand about two feet away from a wall, with your back facing the wall. Lean back, and slide down the wall until your thighs and shins are at a 90 degree angle, and then slide back up, keeping your back and shoulders straight against the wall as you do.
- Squats: With or without weights in your hand, step one leg forward and then bend your knee until your legs are at a 90 degree angle. Then rise and step back. Reverse legs.
- Leg lifts: Sit on the floor with your back at a 90 degree angle against a wall or couch. With your hands on the floor, lift one leg into the air for 20 seconds. Then alternate.
For Morning Backaches…
Do you wake up in the morning with an achey back? Perhaps your morning stretches elicit cracks and groans from your body. It might be time for a new mattress, but it could also be that your back just isn’t strong enough.
Strengthening your core muscles will relieve the pressure on your spine, alleviating discomfort and preventing problems like sprains, herniated discs, and vertebral fractures. Increased strength and flexibility will also alleviate your stiffness, aches, and pains.
- Bridge exercise: Lay on the floor with your legs bent, knees upright. Place your feet hip-distance apart, and with both arms straight and flat on the floor, press your hips up into the air. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly lower down. You can stretch more by clasping your hands together under your hips with each bridge.
- Cat stretches: From four point position (on your hands and knees) put your knees hip-distance apart, and your hands directly under your shoulders. Arch your back up like a cat, and then drop the belly and look up, arching in the other direction.
Shoulder blade squeezes: while sitting in good posture, with a straight back, pull your shoulder blades back and hold for 15 seconds, then release and repeat.