Stay Injury-Free During Home Workouts

Nothing's more convenient than working out at home.  You throw down your mat, grab your weights, pop in a DVD and voila-you're exercising.  For too many people, however, that workout DVD puts them on the fast track to injury.  How can you prevent getting hurt?  We talked to the expert for tips on how to prevent workout DVD injuries at home.

Before you get started, make sure your doctor says it's okay to start a new exercise program.  If you have any injuries or conditions that might be affected by exercising, talk to a fitness professional about what types of workout DVDs to choose.  Yoga, Pilates, and low-impact aerobics are usually safe choices for everyone. Try renting DVDs before you buy, and be sure to get a variety.  If one proves too challenging, boring or complicated, switch to another until you find a good fit.

Once you've chosen the right workout DVD, Megan Bentley, AFPA certified personal trainer and Pilates Instructor in California says, "keep it safe by following these four tips:

1)  "Make sure you have a large enough space that allows you to move around freely."

Exercise injuries happen when you whack your arm against the coffee table or try to stretch out in a small space.  Ideally, you'll have a designated exercise room with that's free from furniture, clutter, pets, plants, small children and debris.  If that's not possible, claim enough space in your bedroom, living room or garage so you can really stretch out and move without touching anything.

2)  "Make sure you warm up properly. A few jumping jacks, a quick 10-minute power walk, or marching in place will do."

Performing strenuous exercise, weightlifting, or stretching with "cold" muscles can cause exercise injuries like muscle or ligament strain or post-workout pain and inflammation.  After a warm-up, however, your muscles are well-circulated with blood and oxygen, more limber, and ready to go.

3) "Don't try to do too much too soon. Listen to your body."

Just because you want to work out like the professionals doesn't mean you're ready to.  Give yourself time to build up your fitness level.  Weekend warriors and people who do the "advanced" version of a workout DVD may end up in the emergency room with sprains, strains, and back aches.  Start slow and easy and gradually increase your time, distance, endurance, or weight at no more than 10 percent per week.

4) Make sure your workout ends with a few minutes of stretching, even if it's not part of the DVD's workout.

Cooling down and stretching are just as important as warming up.  That's because exercise causes muscles to shorten, tighten, and become slightly inflamed.  If you work flexibility exercises into your routine, you'll experience fewer exercise injuries and less soreness the day after.



Megan Bentley, AFPA certified fitness instructor and SPX certified Pilates Instructor at Pilates Plus, Orange County CA.