Ben Franklin was famous for a lot of things, including pithy one liners so full of wisdom it’s almost a pity they’ve become mere clichés.
Like this one:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The truth is, we’re actually gaga over this idea. Keeping yourself healthy (that is, free of disease or injury and operating near your full genetic potential) helps you maximize your physical and mental well-being. Here’s why:
– You avoid the downtime associated with sitting on the sidelines with an injury.
– You avoid the risk of scar tissue, muscle wasting (known as muscle atrophy), and localized weakness and neuromuscular dysfunction often associated with injury.
– You avoid the mental and emotional stress associated with pain and physical discomfort (let alone the pain and physical discomfort itself).
And while treating an acute or chronic injury is vital for keeping yourself functioning and feeling great for years to come, preventing such an injury is even more important. To that end, we’ve got 5 awesome “pre-habilitation” exercises that can help your joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nervous system prepare for most types of physical activity. Not only can this help you stay injury-free, but it can also help you get the most out of each workout, too.
Give them a try the next time you’re at the gym, and be sure to chat with a trainer or physical therapist if you have specific questions or concerns.
“Prehab,” Not Rehab: 5 Exercises That’ll Help Keep You Injury-Free:
Why we love it: prepares your spine, spinal cord, rib cage, and lungs for movement.
How to do it: Start on all fours. Breathe in, drop your belly, and lift your gaze up. Then, breathe out, dropping your chin toward your chest, rounding out your spine and pressing your back up toward the ceiling.
Why we love it: A fantastic method for warming up your hip joint capsules and deep hip muscles.
How to do it: Start on all fours. Lift one leg out and up until your shin bone is parallel to the floor (knee and ankle should be in line with each other).
3) Arm & Leg Swings
Why we love it: Dynamic warm-up of connective tissues in your limbs—plus it promotes energizing blood flow.
How to do it: Simply swing your arms in circles, up and down, and across your body. For legs, hold on to a steady surface and swing forward and back, then across and out, one leg at a time.
Why we love it: Engages your lower core and glutes for hip and back safety.
How to do it: Put a small theraband around your ankles. Keeping your chest up, knees and hips slightly bent, walk forward taking short choppy steps, making sure the tension in the band is high throughout.
Why we love it: Warms up and engages small stabilizing muscles in your rotator cuffs. Hint: try this after a workout for extra strengthening.
How to do it: Start either standing and slightly bent forward at the hips, or lying face down on a bench. Using little to no weight, lift your arms out in a T shape (palms face down). Then lift your arms up by your ears (palms facing in). Finally, lift your arms up in a Y shape (this is called the “scapular plane of motion”), again with palms facing in.
Repeat these movements as desired (at least 10-20 is ideal), and make sure you never have pain during them.
Got some favorite pre-hab exercises in your own gym toolkit? Let us know about them by sharing in the comments below!