We all know that physical activity improves health and helps prevent chronic diseases, and there are more and more initiatives to stimulate their practice. Bodybuilding and weight training have gained popularity, and although studies indicate that the frequency is lower than that of mass sports, the truth is that, as with all forms of physical activity, injuries also occur.
The truth is that there is nothing intrinsically unsafe in machines or weights. What we do with them is that it can leave us injured! And since injuries are the last thing anyone wants, let’s look at the key aspects to prevent them.
1- Betting on a good warm-up
While a meal time or the last 5 minutes of training are situations that, when strictly necessary, can be changed or waived for other important commitments, ignoring good heating should not be optional! Warming is injury prevention in many ways: not only does it increase circulation and blood flow, raising body temperature, but it also increases the flexibility of muscles, making the body less susceptible to injury and more resistant to weights. Further, a suitable 10-minute heating increases synovial fluid production by synovial membranes (films lining the joints) up to 13%, which lubricates and feeds the articular cartilage.
In addition to preparing the body for the metabolic stress of the workout and to be able to perform the movements more naturally, proper warm-up also has mental benefits and allows the ‘get in the zone’. Being focused (focused) on training is a criterion of performance and safety! Before starting the workout, in addition to dynamic stretching we should spend at least five to ten minutes doing aerobic activity consisting of exercises that activate all the joints and connective tissues that will be needed during the workout.
While the rowing machine or the crosstrainer machine (elliptical) work simultaneously on the upper and lower limbs, other machines, such as treadmill or jogging, stairmaster bike, preferentially work the lower part of our body. So, to ensure that the upper body examples, shake vigorously and make movements in several directions with the arms!
2- Start with lighter weights
Often, we see people coming to the gym and starting to do the workouts of their workout plan, with a high weight and no heating. ‘I do not want to spend time’ or ‘I do not need it’ are some of the answers you get. Starting early with high loads is an irresponsible attitude, because not only does it increase the risk of losing control of the movement and hurting ourselves, stretching our muscles too much (or even crushing fingers and joints!), But also puts at risk other people who might be around.
Before starting the working sets of the first exercise of the training plan, we must make warm up sets, which consist of 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions of the same exercise, but without weight or light weight as an assay to ‘activate’ their muscles. This allows you to activate the neuronal pathways that connect the Central Nervous System to the muscles, which helps in coordination and mind-muscle connection, helping to maintain focus throughout your workout. It also allows oxygen to move more easily from the bloodstream to the specific muscles, and then to recruit muscle glycogen more efficiently.
3 – Good breath control
Breathing is often the most neglected and least understood component during training. Of course, when we lift a weight, our blood pressure increases exponentially, but temporarily. If we add to holding the breath during the execution of the exercise, the pressure in the chest cavity will increase, which will consequently raise the blood pressure even more.
However, this has the disadvantage of preventing the blood circulation of muscles and overloading the heart, and that, when we finish the exercise, we stop breathing and inhale, the muscles finally relax, the blood begins to flow again and blood pressure drops. This sudden drop can cause syncope (loss of consciousness) and cause us to lose weight and, consequently, get hurt. The most effective way to breathe during your workout is to make your exercise move as fast as your breath. It should be exhaled while lifting the weight (concentric phase) and inhaling the return to the initial position (eccentric phase), without arresting the air at any time. In this way, it is possible to control better the variations of the arterial pressure and to avoid undesirable and dangerous situations.
4 – Use a good technique
When we perform a certain exercise, the main objective must be to adjust the body to the movement, that is, to establish the correct form and balance of a given exercise. Studies indicate that the shoulders, elbows, knees, hands and wrists, as well as the lumbar region, are the most frequently injured areas, so prior to increasing loads, it is essential to have a good running technique so that no tensions arise in any of the joints or muscles. A bad technique must be corrected right from the start, because not only does it immediately reduce the likelihood of injury, but it also prevents the creation of incorrect routines – and we all know that old habits are hard to break! In general, it can be said that for a good execution:
- The movement must be controlled, without impulses, valuing the eccentric movements
- We should focus on a good mind-muscle connection;
- Full amplitudes should be used to avoid muscle shortening and imbalances;
- Do not block / lock joints with full extensions (for example, do not extend elbows completely when training triceps),
- A correct posture should be maintained throughout the duration of the exercise, from when you grasp the weight (for example, when lifting a weight off the floor, we should do this by bending the knees, avoiding leaning backwards and causing unnecessary overload in the spine) until you put your weight on the floor (you should not “drop” the weights!) – smashing injuries due to falling weights are the most common in bodybuilding!
5 – Cool down
In addition to good warm-up, it’s important to end the workout with a few minutes of aerobic workout at a slow pace, to help relax and reduce muscle tension. This allows heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure to return to their initial values, and prevents any dizziness or breakdowns that may occur when we abruptly stop after exercise, especially in people suffering from hypertension or cardiovascular problems .
Although stretching after training does not produce relevant reductions in Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), ending with 15- and 30-second static stretches, 2 to 4 repetitions, can help relax and still improve flexibility.
6 – Rest, feed and moisturize!
Apesar do estímulo para aumentar de tamanho e força de um músculo passar através do exercício, só com o devido descanso e nutrição é que o corpo recupera a energia e as fibras perdidas, acrescentando ainda fibras novas e desenvolvendo força e massa muscular. A recuperação de um músculo pode demorar até 72 horas, dependendo de variáveis como a idade, a genética, o nível de fitness e quais os músculos treinados. Ignorar o tempo necessário para recuperação pode levar a lesões, e até mesmo à rotura de músculos, por isso, ouve o teu corpo e aposta em planear dias de descanso para teres uma boa recuperação. Nunca te esqueças também que dormir 7h a 9h por dia é o método mais eficaz para recuperar física e psicologicamente!
Another fundamental factor is the feeding, because with the training the glycogen reserves are low. You should bet on a good diet to help the body recover, repair the tissues and get stronger. Hydration is also essential when exercising, because we lose a lot of fluid through sweat, in the body’s attempt to maintain a temperature of about 37 ° C.
After 1 hour of exercise, our body loses more water than we can produce; and if the body is dehydrated, performance in training will decrease – and dehydration ultimately damages our health. As a rule, we should drink about 0.5L of water before starting the workout and 200ml of water every 20 minutes of training, but these values vary depending on the body weight of each person. We should not be governed by the feeling of thirst, because when it happens, we are already dehydrated! Good hydration helps to control tiredness, reduce the risk of muscle cramps, and also promotes blood circulation, transport of glycogen to cells and elimination of toxins.