In the Tivity Health Silver Sneaker newsletter, Lou Schuler shared that with a few simple precautions, you can get the results you want without taking unnecessary risks.
He write that the kid flying around the gym was in fantastic shape, no doubt about it. After lifting, jumping onto a stack of boxes, and running sprints while pushing a weighted sled, he barely looked like he was breathing hard. I’d guess he was 20, one-third my age, and as I watched him, all I could think of was how many parts of my body would explode if I attempted his workout.
It’s a lesson I learned the hard way—several times. All it took was a knee injury from jumping, pulled muscles from sprints, an injured elbow from lifting fast, and worst of all, a back injury from the time I continued lifting heavy weights even though I knew something was off that day.
You can learn from my mistakes, and from the advice of my friend Chad Waterbury, D.P.T., a physical therapist and veteran personal trainer based in Santa Monica, California.
“Any injury is avoidable,” Waterbury says. The trick, as I know all too well, is to understand what not to do before you do it.
Start by checking with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program. Then, follow these tips to ensure that avoidable injuries are actually avoided.
Watch Your Back and Shoulders
These are your two most vulnerable areas, Waterbury says, but for different reasons.
Lower-back injuries often arise from a lack of strength in the muscles of your hips and pelvis. “An older person might do the leg press to strengthen the glutes,” he says. But that movement only develops one function of the muscles: straightening your hips when they’re bent. The glutes also are responsible for pulling your legs away from your torso and outwardly rotating your thigh bone.
The best exercise for those functions, Waterbury says, is the side step with a miniband. Put the band around your thighs, just above your knees, and take long steps to the side. He recommends doing band walks for a minute or two twice per day, making sure to do the same number of steps in each direction.