If you’re looking to start off on your own fitness journey, or you’re already on your way, and you want to make sure that you do it as safely as possible, then you have to do it with the understanding that there’s always a chance of injury. When you’re pushing your body further than you do normally, sometimes you can cause a little accidental damage.

Here, we’re going to look at how you can prevent it as best as possible and what to do in the event that it happens.

Warm up and cool down appropriately

One of the biggest mistakes that lead to exercise injuries is a lack of care taken both at the beginning and the end of your exercise session. You should make sure that you take the time to warm up so that your muscles and joints have the opportunity to limber up. Light exercises, to start, as well as plenty of stretches before you start hitting the hard stuff. Cooling down is just as important. If you don’t do a series of stretches after your workout, then there’s a good chance that your muscles are going to return to their usual, less flexible form, but slightly out of position, leading to knots, pain, and a better chance of tearing something even after the exercise.

Exercise correctly

It’s important to make sure that you’re exercising properly. If you’re doing any strength training, learning the proper form isn’t just going to help you exercise more effectively, it will ensure that you’re not putting any extra strain on certain places which can lead to injury. Aside from the proper form, proper equipment is just as important. This means not exercising in gear that’s too tight or puts any additional pressure or tension on parts of the body. Similarly, if you’re running, you should use trainers that provide good arch support so that you’re less likely to experience injuries such as plantar fasciitis. If you’re not able to invest in decent workout gear, then you should at least avoid exercises that require it.

Fuel your body appropriately

Managing a full and nutritious diet is going to be crucial when it comes to making sure that you’re as resilient and able to recover as possible. However, when it comes to exercise, there’s one nutrient that stands out as the most important: protein. Whether you opt for shakes or you keep a box of protein bars stocked, you should make sure that you’re loading up before you start working out. Protein plays a crucial part in repairing the intentional damage you do to your muscles when you exercise. Muscles strain and, then, when they repair, they grow stronger and larger in the process. Make sure that you get enough protein so that they have the necessary fuel.

Know when to stop pushing further

It might seem a little imprecise, but the advice to ‘listen to your body’ is always worth taking the time to listen to. It’s true that when you exercise, you’re supposed to be pushing your body and even doing light damage to your muscles so that they can come back stronger. But there’s a very clear difference between the burn of exertion and serious pain. If you start to feel anything beyond the usual ache or tiredness of the muscles, then you should stop exercising. If you start to feel any kind of unfamiliar tension in your limbs or joints, then reduce the pace, intensity, or weight of your exercise equipment. You don’t want to test what happens when you push too far.

Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate

It’s not just what you eat that matters, but what you drink is crucial, too. If you’re not hydrating properly when you’re exercising, then you are going to be more prone to not just injuries, but migraines, exhaustion, and a host of other problems. Make sure to get your hands on a good reusable water bottle and keep drinking. You lose water and electrolytes when you exercise, so replenish this. If you prefer a good sports drink instead of water, that’s fine. Bring enough to sip every 10-15 minutes during your workout session, but avoid drinking too much as well. You don’t want that feeling of water swirling in your stomach, causing nausea during the workout.

Give yourself time to recover

Feeling energized and ready to get back into the gym even though you’ve just finished a session? Well, don’t. Not if you’re planning to work out the same muscles at the very least. Give your muscles time to rest from the exercises for at least a day (longer if you intensely focused on those muscles during your last session.) You can still go to the gym to work on different muscle groups if you’re feeling up to it. If you have had a really hard session, however, and you’re exhausted, give your body at least a day of light rest to recover and make sure that you’re using things like ice packs or heat packs to deal with the inflammation that often accompanies.

Recovering from your injuries

If you do end up hurting yourself during a workout, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world in most cases. There are many common exercise injuries and how you treat them can differ from injury to injury. In most cases, however, the advice is the same. Rest the affected muscles, load up on anti-inflammatory foods (or even things like a CBD vape) to get through the inflammation period, and then start to get back to using them slowly. If you feel like a part of the body isn’t healing properly or is taking too long to show progress, be sure to see your doctor.

Injuries can slow down your progress, and even cause you to slide back a little from your goals. However, don’t rush to get back on your feet if you’re not ready. You need to ensure that you recover effectively.