Whether you’re a hardcore athlete training for an Ironman race or you have lingering pain from a months (or years) old problem, muscle injuries can be some of the worst health issues. Not only can they take awhile to heal, but you’ll feel that injury every time you move — and that means shifting in your chair just as much as it does walking or exercising. If you’ve ever pulled a muscle in your back or injured those muscles that support your ankle, you probably understand just how much even a small muscle injury can affect your daily life. Don’t let muscle injury worries weigh you down. Instead of a pound of cure, try an ounce of prevention with physical therapy. Here are six ways to help prevent muscle injuries.
#1 Vary Your Exercises
One of the most common causes of muscle injuries isn’t over- or under-stretching, it’s repeated motions. This is why muscle injury is just as much a risk if you do a job with repetitive motions as it is for a runner or a golfer. Those repetitive motions can put a lot of strain on your joints and the muscles that surround them. If a joint comes out of alignment, it can put added pressure on your muscles, ultimately causing a strain or tear. In order to help prevent this from happening, it’s important to switch up your exercises and give joints a break from the same motion or motions.
#2 Stretch Properly
Note that we didn’t say stretch a lot or stretch thoroughly; we said stretch properly. The idea behind stretching is to help loosen up tight muscles to prevent them from tearing. However, if you aren’t warmed up, stretching can do as much harm as good. Likewise, if you try to push your body too far, warmed up or not, stretching can cause injury rather than prevent them. For more guidance on how to stretch properly, seek out the help of a physical therapist or other trained professional like an athletic trainer.
#3 Build Strength Wisely
Building stronger muscles can provide similar but different benefits compared to stretching. Where stretching can help relax tight muscles and improve range of motion, building up strength can help stabilize your joints — when done wisely, at least. That doesn’t mean you need to become a bodybuilder and bulk up, but there are exercises you can to do build up certain muscle groups, especially those that support your joints.
#4 Massage Therapy
Massage therapy offers similar benefits to your body as stretching, but arguably better. Like stretching, the goal of massage therapy is to help loosen tight muscles and improve range of motion. As long as you’re seeking out a licensed massage therapist, you’ll likely see more of a benefit because they are experts in your body’s musculature and they know how to work the muscles properly. Plus, a massage therapist will be able to better release and manipulate muscles in those harder-to-stretch areas like your back and shoulders.
#5 Work On Better Posture
Do you notice neck or shoulder pain at the end of your work day? Poor posture doesn’t only cause back pain, it can affect your joints and hamper range of motion. If you’re looking for a good way to minimize the risk of muscle injuries, go to the basics and focus on your posture — and that’s both sitting and standing. Additionally, try to avoid sitting or standing in one position for too long. Changing up your position, and going from sitting to standing and back, can help you keep better posture throughout the day, which puts less strain on your joints and supporting muscles.
#6 Physical Therapy
No, you don’t need to wait until you’re injured to seek out the help of a physical therapist. In fact, working with a physical therapist long before an injury can be one of the best ways to prevent muscle injuries from happening. Physical therapists can help gauge the well-being of your joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments before providing strength-building and stretching exercises designed specifically to build up or loosen potential problem areas.
For personalized help and muscle injury prevention near you, contact Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa in Peoria and schedule your consultation today!