If you have been exercising for years, you may think you have everything figured out. You aren't making any mistakes in your workout routine, right? Maybe not. Executing a proper exercise regimen isn't just about finding a workout that fits your schedule, it is about listening to your body and discovering its needs and its weaknesses.
Avoiding mistakes that can lead to injury is essential if you want to fully benefit from, and enjoy, your workouts. Injuries slow you down and may even derail you long enough to undo any of the progress you've already made! Who wants that?
Here are 10 common exercise mistakes that even seasoned veterans can make:
1. A failure to understand that body parts are related
Back pain may have nothing to do with your back. Same goes for soreness in your knees. "For the lower back injuries, I see a lack of hamstring and thoracic mobility, not maintaining a neutral spine during exercises and lack of overall glute strength," PJ Stahl, a Reebok Trainer based in L.A., tells Bustle
. Be aware of these areas and muscle groups, always practice good form, and you'll be able to address your pain safely. By focusing on these weaker areas, you will be able to strengthen the supporting muscles and avoid strain.
2. Jumping into new activities too quickly
Just because you have mastered a certain exercise, doesn't mean you have mastered them all. If you are an excellent runner, it doesn't mean you know how to properly strength train, for example. Whenever you start something new, take your time. Start slow, ease into it. Give it at least a week before you increase the intensity. Don't overwhelm your body with too many movements it is not used to making.
3. Not focusing on flexibility
"Flexibility is just as important as strength," says Stahl. "Imagine if your body cannot do a specific range of motion for a movement. If you try to force your body through that range of motion, your body is going to compensate and deviate." Take a little time each day to work on your flexibility. Being more flexible will boost your performance in nearly every activity you undertake. Flexible muscles have a better range of motion and will not only make your workout movements feel easier, they will make daily functional tasks, like bending and lifting, feel like a breeze.
4. Not working on technique
Don't get caught up in the intensity of your workout and forget about your technique. "Many people get injured from repeated bad form, and it is so disappointing because they put forth the effort and most of the time, they didn't even know they were doing it wrong," says Michelle Dolente, a Reebok Trainer based in D.C. "I have trained numerous athletes who are fit but were never taught to engage their muscles, so they aren't as defined as they would like," she says. Don't be afraid to check in and ask for help when you are starting a new exercise move. To get the best results, you'll need to know how to perform the move properly. Even if you've been performing a move for some time, it wouldn't hurt to ask someone to spot you a moment to be sure you are still hitting all the right notes in the form department.
5. Sticking with what you know
When you vary your activities, you give your muscles a chance to rest and recover, while still remaining active. Don't get stuck in a workout rut and perform the same routine over and over again. You will not get the results you desire and you run the risk of an overuse injury. Try a workout routine that shifts focus and doesn't concentrate on the same movements, every day. Need a place to start? Check out the over 66 hours of workouts available on Sweatflix℠
6. Not showing your body some love
It is important to take the time to unwind your body. Cool down, stretch, foam roll, whatever it is you prefer to do to relax and soothe those muscles, do it. You may be tempted to skip this step or cut it short but taking this time can help your muscles recover more quickly. A warm bath can also be useful in soothing those aches and pains!
7. Ignoring an injury
It may be tempting to keep going, or push yourself through the pain but ignoring your injury could be disastrous. "Injuries never happen at a good time, but just ignoring them is pretty good insurance that you will get injured again, and the next time it is usually much worse," says Dolente. Give yourself time to recover! It isn't a bad idea to seek some medical advice, as well. Sometimes, rest isn't enough.
8. Neglecting the whole body when injured
While it is essential to give yourself recovery time, injuries are often centered in one or two areas of the body which means you can work around them so you don't fall completely out of routine. "Ask the medical professional what exercises will be okay during this time. If you injure your knee or legs, chances are you can still work on core and upper body," recommends Dolente. "Hurt your wrist? Focus on lower body exercises and core," she adds.
9. Exercising too much
Overtraining can be a nightmare for your muscles, joints, and hormone levels. Overdoing it can actually undo all you hope to accomplish. If you do too much, for too long, you run the risk of thinning bones and weakening muscles. Once again, be sure to allow your body time to rest and recover. Make your rest days every bit as important as your work days.
10. Not eating well
Diet plays an important role in achieving results. It is important to make sure you are eating a whole, clean, balanced diet that is made up of protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. And don't forget to keep hydrated. If you focus on these elements throughout the day, your workouts will be enhanced. If you are having a difficult time reigning in your diet, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan
! It has all the information you need (and lots of great recipes) to start improving your health today!
Have you committed any of these workout mistakes? How did you correct them? Share your tips with us!