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Exercising slow, steady prevents common fitness injuries

Someone once said that the only way to avoid injuries is to do absolutely nothing. An injury can happen to anyone — regardless of fitness level — whether they are working out or simply taking a stroll. However, while some injuries may be unavoidable, there are many simple exercise mistakes that can put one at an unnecessary risk for injuries; taking certain precautions can lessen exercise workout injuries.

Build up gradually: Doing too much too soon is a sure way to invite injuries. Forget that "no pain, no gain" myth. For cardio movement, begin with 10- to 15-minute workouts three times a week at a comfortable pace, adding intensity when you have enough endurance to do 30 minutes at one time.

If you are strength training, begin with a light weight, performing one set of eight to 12 repetitions, two or three times a week for several weeks, then begin adding weight.

Watch out for these

Muscle strain (pulled muscle) is an injury to a muscle where the muscle fibers tear and is generally caused from overstretching, overuse and poor flexibility.

• You negatively impact back, shoulders and knees, in addition to increasing blood pressure, if you use too heavy a weight or swing the weight too fast.

Tendinitis can develop almost anywhere in the body where a tendon connects bone to a muscle and is usually caused by the overuse syndrome; tendons have a tendency to lose elasticity as we age.

• To help reduce ankle injuries, wobble boards are very effective. They can help you strengthen your ankles while helping develop better balance. A beginner might try standing with one leg on the floor and arms extended to the sides.

• Bouncing with stretching can lead to strained tendons or muscles as a result of forcing muscles to go beyond their normal range of motion.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Reach her at slafit@tampabay.rr.com.

Repeat movements eight to 12 times for one or two sets.

Lunge: Strengthens lower body muscles and challenges balance. When performed properly, lunges are good for stabilizing and strengthening knees. Using a support if necessary, step forward with left foot, feet 2 or 3 feet apart. Keeping back straight, bend knees, with your front thigh parallel to floor and back knee pointing toward the floor, heel off floor. Push up to original position.

Hamstring curl on stability ball: Strengthens the back of the thighs, abs and back. Lying on the floor, place heels on ball, feet flexed (toes point upward). With your abs contracted, lift hips off floor; hips, knees and shoulders are in alignment. Keeping hips lifted, roll ball in and out. To modify, place calves on ball instead of heels and lower hips to floor after rolling ball out.

Ankle strengthening on wobble board: Standing tall, contracting your abdominals and using a support if needed, place feet parallel to each other on wobble board. Slowly move board to the left, then to the right, never letting the board touch the floor. Continue with the movement for 15 seconds, rest and repeat.

Exercising slow, steady prevents common fitness injuries 02/24/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 24, 2014 1:17pm]

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