Hello and welcome to Cody! We’re glad you have decided to share your fitness journey with us.
Because of the nature of your training plan, we recommend brushing up on these basic safety tips before attempting any inversions, stunts, flips, lifts, or other potentially risky physical activities.
Safety points covered in this post:
- General advice
- 4 most common types of training injuries
- Warm ups & cool downs
- Useful safety equipment
Get the technique down before going harder or heavier
Practice with a focus on technique. Even if you find a movement “easy” on its own, for example, the air squat, it is important to master the technique before moving on to more difficult variations. Don’t know if you are using “good” technique? Take a picture (or video) of yourself performing the movement, and compare your stills to the coaches’ form.
When you get tired & worn out towards the end of a workout, you will be tempted to let your form suffer. But performing a movement with half the effort is not going to help you improve, and can be downright dangerous. Don’t cheat on your last reps. Do them well, or don’t do them at all.
Rest days are important!
Rest days are crucial to your body’s growth & recovery, especially when building muscle. Microtears in your muscles fibers are caused by the strain of pushing your muscles to work harder than they are accustomed to. After your workout, your body begins the process of mending over these tears. Mending over the microtears is what causes your muscles to grow stronger & firmer. But your body cannot efficiently mend these tears without adequate rest. Listen to your body and allow yourself to rest when you need it.
Variety is good for the body
While it’s tempting to hone in on activities that contribute directly to your goal, there is a risk for chronic over & under-use of muscle groups. Try to switch up your movements and activities at least once a week. Even if it’s just a brisk walk.
Listen to your body, not your ego
The single most important rule to avoiding injury is to listen to your body, not your ego. While you may usually have the attitude to “push through the pain”, listen to what your body is telling you.
Know the 4 common culprits
1. Muscle cramps and spasms are strong and sustained muscle contractions. This is not to be confused with regular muscle soreness, which is slightly uncomfortable, but does not have a sudden, intense onset like cramps & spasms do.
Treating muscle cramps: Gentle stretching will help relieve cramps; hydration and good conditioning help prevent them.
2. Sprains are injuries to ligaments – the short band of tough, flexible, fibrous connective tissue that connects two bones or cartilages or holds together a joint. The usual symptoms of a sprain is if your joint is experiencing pain, swelling, bruising, or not being able to move or use the joint.
Treating sprains: The recommended at-home treatment for a sprain is called “RICE”: Rest the affected area. Ice the area as soon as possible after the injury and continue to ice it for 15 to 20 minutes, four to eight times a day, for the first 48 hours or until swelling improves. Compress with an elastic wrap or bandage, and elevate above the heart whenever possible.
3. Strains, aka “pulled muscle” are injuries to muscles or tendons. Like sprains, strains are usually caused by a misstep or fall that places excessive force on a tendon or muscle, so that fibers are stretched or torn. Common symptoms of a strain include: swelling, bruising or redness, or open cuts due to the injury, pain at rest, pain when the specific muscle or the joint in relation to that muscle is used, weakness of the muscle or tendons, or inability to use the muscle at all.
Treating strains: The recommended at-home treatment for a strain is similar to sprains, called “PRICE”: Protect by applying an elastic bandage, sling, or splint. Rest the muscle for at least a day. Ice immediately, and continue to ice for 10 to 15 minutes every hour, for 2-3 days. Compress by gently wrapping with an Ace or other elastic bandage. (Don’t wrap tightly.) Elevate injured area above the person’s heart level, if possible, for at least 24 hours.
4. Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon, often caused by overuse or poor body mechanics. Pain is the major symptom, but warmth, swelling, and redness may also occur. The pain is typically most severe at the start of exercise; it eases up during exercise, only to return with a vengeance afterward. Some cases of tendinitis last only a few days, while others can lead to chronic pain.
Treating tendinitis: You can treat mild cases of tendinitis by easing off the activity/movement that caused it, applying ice to reduce swelling, using a sling or brace to assist in recovery, and taking ibuprofen. If the pain persists after a few days, see a doctor.
Warming up & cooling down
Dynamic Warm Ups
A dynamic warm up is very different from holding static stretches. Dynamic warm ups involve constant motion the both open up your joints, and fire up your muscles. Try swinging your arms & legs in wide range-of-motion circles, doing some torso twists, and jumping jacks for a dynamic warm-up.
It’s equally important to cool down after a workout with a restorative activity. This could include a short walk, or some restorative poses such as these.
Useful safety equipment
The single best “safety equipment” option is another person! When you are about to perform a new move, and recognize that you do not yet have the confidence to perform it without risk, ask a buddy to help you out.
Mats & soft surfaces
When working with inversions, tumbling tricks, or other movements that require you to get up-side-down or off the ground, using a padded surface to start is a smart move. Only when you feel completely comfortable with the movement should you switch to a hard surface. Other mat alternatives to break potential falls include trampolines, mattresses, and swimming pools.
Wraps & Braces
When working with heavy lifts or complex movements, it may help to have some extra support. Options include weightlifting belts, wrist wraps, and knee supports. It may be helpful to speak with a professional coach to determine if you need wraps or braces in your training.
Best of luck with your training, and remember to practice with caution!