Injury prevention is something I’ve had many people ask me to write about, and I’ve been meaning to get it done!
But it took myself getting injured for me to realize that I need to write about this, for a few reasons. One being that its much simpler than we think and it’s worth it to make sure we don’t injure ourselves. But also because me ignoring the simple signs lead to an injury, which could be a pretty serious one, and now I cannot train as I would normally.
One thing that really gets in my head negatively is not being able to train. Training is my career, my hobby, my life, and also my meditation. The gym is where I put my headphones in and have time to myself. I can think about life, release any built up stress, and ultimately crush some weights. So the fact that my training is limited as of right now, it’s seriously killing me mentally.
So let me fill you in on what happened, I have a possible meniscus tear in my right knee. When my PT’s told me this (shout out to Paul & Austin at DPT, best guys in the biz…), I freaked out a little bit because I have torn my meniscus and ACL in my left knee which lead to surgery. That is something I do not want to go through again! Luckily it’s not major and we believe its trainable rather than needing surgery.
The reason for this injury was not traumatic, but over use. I was over training myself specifically my hamstrings and quads, mind you that I constantly coach people on how to avoid over training… a slight problem we as trainers have.
I was performing two leg days per week, one hamstring dominant and one quad dominant. On two complete separate days I would perform two-a-days where I did 150-200 yard sprints and 40-yard hill sprints. Now I will say I was getting pretty ripped from doing all this the last few months, but I was leaving out my prehab work (injury prevention work) and recovery sessions that can be more important than anything in training.
Now my hamstring and quad muscle tendons are pulling/irritating my meniscus, AKA no more lower body for Boom Boom! So what should I have done to prevent this? Not over trained specific muscles, more prehabilitation work, and more recovery work/time. So that is exactly what I will be helping you make sure you get in today’s post!
First and foremost you should be adding daily prehab into all your training sessions, which can simply just be your warm up. In my opinion one of the most important parts of the body to warm up or perform mobility on, are the hips. The hips are used so much in daily tasks, but also are a major staple in movement within the gym.
If your hips are not mobile enough, there could be multiple problems. One being that your Lumbar Spine or your knees could try to make up for its mobility, these body parts are not meant to be mobile but are supposed to be stable. If a body part that’s supposed to create stability tries to perform mobility, injury is very likely to happen (most likely a cause with the situation on my knee).
[Mobility drills can be found all over YouTube, so I will not describe them all because there are too many. But I do plan to have a post in the near future on hip mobility exercises.]
Next on the list are the hip flexors. These need to be thoroughly stretched and warmed up because just about every lower body movement needs to use these muscles. The hip mobility drills will definitely help this tremendously but I definitely suggest loosing up those hip flexors.
This is also going to help prevent low back pain, which most of us have. It will also lead to much better movement patterns during squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc. Some great exercises for this can be found in my post on Low Back Pain.
Another very important part of a warm up, and also the cool down, is foam rolling and tissue work. I’m not going to point out too many specific areas you should be rolling because I believe you should be rolling just about your entire body.
The key with this is to stay consistent, that’s where most people have their biggest problem. I’m very guilty for this myself, you foam roll and feel great… so you’re good to go. Still feeling pretty good the next training session, so you skip foam rolling. Next thing you know, a week or two down the road, your tissue quality is horrible and you have pain in a specific area. This is exactly what happens to almost all my clients, and what I repeatedly do myself.
So take my advice and stay consistent! I don’t care how well your feeling; you should never skip foam rolling and tissue work.
Now I could go on and on about what exercises will help prevent injury and what recovery strategies work best to stay on top of your game, but I would have to write a book. The main point I wanted to get into your head with this post is that you need to warm up and train properly if you plan to stay healthy and injury free.
Do not make the mistake I made by skipping your warm up and tissue work, it is so crucial to your success. Another huge thing to stay away from is the over training I discussed earlier on; less can truly be more in this situation.
At the end of the day we are all searching for one thing, results. To get these results you need to be healthy and able to function athletically in the long run. Getting results in the short-term isn’t what we are looking for; it’s the lifestyle of results we all really want. So take this seriously, because if you don’t then you will be possibly injured and unable to achieve those long-term results we desire.