“First, do no harm”, is what most medical students are taught when heading out to practice their skills. This is a great reminder as we hear about scissors or sponges left in body cavities, the wrong side of the body being worked on, or when shockingly the wrong leg is amputated.
Fortunately, the harm that occurs when looking to get fit is a bit less insidious than this, as we may hurt our knee, shoulder, or ankle for a few months, but they usually get better in time. We can avoid even these burdensome delays in our fitness and weight control though, if we can just be a little more present and elevate past the Neanderthal thinking of unchecked aggression.
I’m not asking for self-actualization or anything like that here, just a little more awareness when getting more active. It will behoove you to warm up very slowly for 7-8 minutes before starting your workout. It will also serve your purposes to listen to your body, and notice signs or signals it may be sending you to stop, adjust, and do something differently. Otherwise, you may be doing a move that your body can’t yet handle or sustain.
For instance, you may be going too fast or setting the resistance too difficult on the stationary bike, and your hip flexors aren’t yet warm and flexible enough to properly support the movement you’re asking of them; and this is when the damage begins.
Pay attention to your form, noticing where your joints are in relation to one another. Don’t let your knee go outside of your toes when doing an exercise, putting undue stress on the knee joint. When doing upper body exercises, watch out for pulling weight behind your head, and letting your hands go behind your shoulders, as this is how rotator cuff damage often happens.
You can engage your muscles wherever you are, strengthening to decrease injury. You don’t have to be at the gym to pull that belly button back toward your spine, or to contract the gluteus maximus; be ready, for you never know when someone is going to try and bounce a quarter off of your hiney.
Getting in shape is a lifetime journey, not something you do hurriedly for 3 months with a deadline; it doesn’t work that way. Rather, set out to workout in a smart, deliberate, and methodical way, and someday you may be the cat’s meow with pliable hip flexors, lean abs and firm buttocks!