Injury-Proof Your Workout

on June 28, 2011

1. Pay attention to your breathing.

When you’re starting a new class, it’s normal to have some discomfort as your body adjusts to the movements. However, pain is not the same thing as discomfort. Your breathing can tip you off to whether you’re pushing yourself beyond your limits. “Pain would alter the smooth rhythm of your breathing,” says ACE spokesperson and Balance Body Pilates master instructor Elizabeth Larkam. If you realize that you are not inhaling and exhaling normally, then stop and make small adjustments to your position until the pain subsides. Most important for: Yoga, Pilates

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Injury-Proof Your Workout!

Group fitness classes are great ways to get your exercise, be social, and try something new. However, if you’re not careful, you risk injury in even the most relaxed classes like yoga and Pilates. Here are the top tips to help you avoid injury, whatever your activity-of-choice.


2. Massage your feet before class starts.

High-energy classes like Zumba are all about balance, and if you’re not balanced, you might get hurt. Larkam explains that balance comes from being able to coordinate what you see with what your feet are doing. That way, your core will remain stable. “If the feet haven’t been stimulated, then they’re not going to be quite awake to be able to get the best information for balance.” Try massaging your feet with your hands or by rolling your feet over a small, inflatable ball before class even begins. Most important for: Yoga, Zumba, step aerobics, and most dance-inspired classes

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3. Observe a class before you start.

Showing up to class without knowing what you’re getting into can be risky. Even if a friend or family member assures you that you’ll be fine, it’s still a good decision to first sit in on a class. “Watch a session to get an idea about the intensity level of the class,” says Dr. Jennifer J. Mitchell, professor and sports medicine fellowship director at Texas Tech University’s Department of Family Medicine. “Some high-intensity classes can be an hour or more, and you may realize you may not be ready for that.” Most important for: Any activity!

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5. Wear the right shoes for your feet.

You may be tempted to go grab the same cute workout shoes instructor is wearing, but do what is best for your own feet. “Depending on your foot anatomy, you may need a more supportive shoe,” explains Mitchell. “One of the most common problems we see is foot and ankle pain because the patient wasn’t paying attention to their anatomy.” If you aren’t sure what you need, visit a specialty shoe store that can analyze your foot. “It is important to choose footwear that provides the appropriate cushion for their foot, their heel strike and for their arch. At the same time, this shoe needs to offer enough flexibility that it’s more like a glove than a mitten for the foot,” says Larkam. Most important for: High-intensity aerobic classes like Zumba and step


4. Incorporate strength training.

Even the simplest classes require you to be strong and confident in your body’s abilities. Since most fitness classes focus on aerobic activity, add strength training twice a week in addition to your class. “Resistance training is just as important as aerobic exercise,” advises Mitchell. Especially for individuals with physical limitations, strength training can help you prevent injury in your class. And as always, discuss with your doctor what level of activity is appropriate. Most important for: Supplementing aerobic activity