With the coming of the new year, many people will vow to get in shape after overindulging during the holidays. However, not knowing the proper way to work out might do more harm than good.
Nearly 500,000 workout-related injuries occur each year. One reason is people want to do too much too fast and overuse their muscles. These injuries occur gradually and are often hard to diagnose in the bones, tendons and joints. Another reason is poor technique during weight and other training.
"It's important to know and respect your body's limits," said Dr. Joshua Harris, an orthopedic surgeon with Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. "Start with an exercise program that will slowly build your strength and endurance."
Start a light to moderate intensity workout three times per week, with the focus on high repetition, low weight sets that emphasize larger muscle groups, including the shoulder, hip, pelvis, and core, Harris said. When lifting weights, he added, it is extremely important to use good form.
"In January, I see an increase in patients with wrist sprains and other hand injuries caused by improper weight lifting," said Dr. Shari Liberman, a hand and upper extremity specialist at Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. "Keep your wrist straight when lifting weights. Many people tend to bend the wrist in or let it fall back which can increase their risk of a sprain or other injury."
Liberman suggests working with a personal trainer for a few weight lifting sessions to help develop good form for your wrists and back. She also recommends alternating between different workout routines.
"Rotating routines helps prevent overuse injuries and increases overall fitness because of the use of many different muscles," said Liberman. "For example, do yoga on Monday, running on Wednesday and weight lifting on Friday."
Harris adds that overuse injuries can also be prevented by increasing your flexibility and recommends stretching after every workout.
"It's important to pay attention to workouts," Harris said. "Study good form and let muscles rest. It might take a little longer to get results, but in the end it will prevent injuries."