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How to Avoid Exercise Injury


Updated April 20, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Change Your Workouts
Doing the same thing over and over for weeks or months on end is another common reason for injury. Anytime your body does the same motions using the same muscles, your risk overuse injuries. Doing other activities that work your muscles in a different way is a great way to avoid injuries, boredom and plateaus.
  • Try new activities: Think of how you normally work your body and look for activities that are completely different. If you like running, a low or no impact choice like swimming, cycling or the elliptical trainer will allow your running muscles to work in a different way, helping to protect you from injury.
  • Focus on variety: If you're not training for something specific, cultivate an interest in a variety of activities to keep your body strong in different ways. When you enjoy more than one thing, like swimming, kickboxing and the elliptical trainer, you always have options for workouts, a bonus if your chosen workout isn't available.
  • Vary your intensity: Doing only high intensity workouts, like heavy strength training or interval training, may put you at risk for an injury. Include slower, easier workouts to work different energy systems and help your body recover from harder workouts. For strength training, try periodization. You can lift heavy and focus on building muscle for a period of time (usually 4 weeks) and then switch to lighter weights to build endurance and give your muscles a chance to work in a different way. Cathe Friedrich's Shock Training System is a great example of this.
  • Change your schedule: Another way to keep things fresh and avoid injury is to change your schedule from time to time. If you always workout 6 days a week with cardio and strength training, try paring down to 3 or 4 days one week, lightening your cardio and strength workouts. You'll still maintain you fitness while giving your body a little more recovery time.

More Ways to Avoid Exercise Injury

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