Preventing Injuries at the Gym
Yoga is a great practice for body and mind. However, it is important to listen to your body when practicing yoga and to focus on your own incremental progress, rather than competing against others. Yoga should not be painful, and any feelings of pain should be avoided. It seems there are many yoga classes popping up in Shanghai and it is difficult for instructors to focus on individuals in classes of 12 or more students (small classes allow the instructor to help you with form and problems). Patients commonly come in with shoulder, elbow and knee injuries related to yoga practice.
Weight/circuit training is helpful for gaining strength. Unfortunately, even when working out with a qualified trainer you may not be getting the balanced workout that keeps your muscles working well in proper balance. Our movements involve sets of muscles working together, often in an antagonistic pair (an agonist and an antagonist). The agonist muscle contracts to make the movement happen, the antagonist muscle opposes the action to control the movement and return it to its normal position. For example, when your biceps contract to lift something, your triceps relax and serve as the controlling antagonist. Too much focus on one area can cause imbalance, leading to injury in areas like the chest and knees.
Running on the treadmill may seem like a good idea to escape the pollution on smoggy Shanghai days. However, too much time on a treadmill can lead to injury. Walking and running are natural, physiological processes which involve the body working in concert. The body takes important cues from the environment when running outside…the eyes see the scenery going by, the ears sense the motion and create balance. On a treadmill, these environmental cues are missing. Regular treadmill runners may suffer from resulting knee injuries (and eventually, hip problems, which tend to stay hidden longer).
Tips for Healthy Workout & Preventing Injury
As soon as you have any pain, get it checked out. Many problems can be easily corrected and prevention can keep you active and healthy.
1. If you are a regular gym-goer or intense exerciser, have an osteopathic checkup every 3-6 months. Think of it as a tune-up for your body. When you work so hard to stay in shape, you want to keep your body healthy and aligned so you can continue staying active for many years to come.
2. Add variety: balance weight training and circuit training with global sports such as martial arts, yoga, tai chi, qigong, and other types of exercise with natural movements which are designed to create balance in the body.
3. Try out different classes/gyms/trainers and take time to find the right one. Try to avoid settling for a large class with no personal attention or an instructor who doesn’t seem qualified. If the atmosphere feels competitive, you may push yourself to do things that aren’t right for your body. Make sure to get instruction on machines and new exercises to ensure you are doing them properly.
Denis provides a wide range of osteopathy treatments including joints manipulations, muscular, soft tissue, visceral and cranial treatments. He focuses on releasing pain and addressing several functional problems in order to assist the body's innate healing capacity and restore optimal functioning to all systems. Click here to schedule an appointment with him.