Focus on rest, technique to avoid workout injuries

If you keep beating the same muscles down, your body is eventually going to break down.

Whether you work out on a regular basis or play sports, there may come a day when your body yells at you through the pain: "Give me a break!" If you don't listen, you could suffer an injury and be sidelined. The most chronic overuse injuries, such as tendinitis, runner's knee, swimmer's shoulder and tennis elbow, come with improper training and technique.

"People will increase their activity level too quickly," says highly rated Dr. Tiffany Gorman of Silicon Valley Sports Medicine in Campbell, Calif. "I advise people to follow the 10 percent rule: Don't increase the intensity, duration and frequency of your activity more than 10 percent a week." You need at least one day to let your muscles rest and recover, and I recommend not working the same muscle group two days in a row. So if you work your chest one day, do your back or legs the next.

If you keep beating the same muscles down, your body is eventually going to break down. This is where cross training comes in. Gorman says if you're training for a marathon, and your knee begins to hurt, do another activity such as swimming, which will cause less stress to your knee but will allow you to get in your cardio workout.

Member Bob Petty of Charlotte, N.C., was running 3 to 5 miles a day when he began experiencing leg arch and calf pain. He realized he needed expert advice when his pain got so bad he could barely get out of bed and walk to the kitchen in the morning. He sought out help from highly rated Mike Danenberg, owner of Performance Therapy.

"Mike recommended I lose weight through a nutrition and supplement program and body strengthening program," Petty says. "He also recommend orthotics for my running shoes and showed me the proper running gait." Petty also now diligently stretches to warm up his muscles before any physical activity, which I highly recommend because you'll be less likely to suffer a muscle or ligament tear.

Not warming up is a common mistake, along with using too much weight, moving too fast or throwing weights around, and using improper form or technique.

When you start a workout program, hire a trainer who will guide you on how to use fitness equipment and free weights properly. Don't worry about impressing people - lift the weight you can and then slowly add more weight. Most trainers can point out imbalances in your body right away and will help you to correct them.

If you do get hurt or have chronic pain, visit a doctor and follow their orders, whether it's wearing a brace or taking time off from physical activity. "The longer you ignore your symptoms, most likely the longer your recovery will be," Gorman says.

Kelsey Taylor is a certified personal trainer with the International Fitness Professionals Association, a sports nutritionist and a strength training instructor with more than 11 years of experience. For the past four years, she's worked at Angie's List as the wellness director serving 700-plus employees.

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