Keep Weight Training Injury-Free
Don't Be a Dumbbell
Stick With the Basics: Proper Nutrition, Rest, Warm-up continued...
Paul Lauer, a certified personal trainer in New York City,
suggests you work each muscle group once a week. That means you might do an
upper body workout one day, then cardiovascular exercise the next day.
For someone who just wants to be in overall good shape, two
weekly sessions with weights plus three days of cardiovascular exercise makes a
good schedule, he says.
A substantial percentage of Lauer's clients seek him out for
help in recovering from injuries due to improper weight-training methods and
sports-related injuries. Though each person's workout depends on his or her
specific situation and goals, a thorough warm-up is essential.
- Typically that might start with 10 minutes on a stationery bike.
- Then, if you're going to work a particular region of the body, stretch and
warm that area.
When you work out with weights you need protein to rebuild
muscle tissue, Gillingham and Lauer agree. Gillingham recommends supplemental
protein powders. "Everyone's using them, and they're great in their place,
but they don't replace protein from foods," Lauer warns.
If you haven't exercised in awhile and you're going to start
weight training, start slowly, says Gerard Varlotta, DO. "We see lots of
people who make a New Year's resolution to start exercising again. They think
they can start at the same level they left off, and they forget they may be 20
years older now."
Notice whether you already have pain in any region, says
Varlotta, a sports medicine rehabilitation physician at New York University
Medical Center and the Rusk Institute in Manhattan. "You could reaggravate
areas that have previously been injured or have some degeneration. Give it a
try, but if you experience discomfort that doesn't go away with rest and
over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, then consult someone about ways to modify
As we age, all of us are likely to experience some degeneration
in the joints, he notes. That doesn't mean we should stop exercising.
"Exercise actually is protective, but like anything else,
too much isn't good," he says. "Start with light weights, use limited
arcs that don't cause any pain, do a number of repetitions that doesn't cause
any difficulty, and increase the exercise level slowly. You do want to take the
muscle to fatigue; you don't want to go over the edge of the cliff."
If you run into any training-related problems, consult a
specialist in the musculoskeletal system, Varlotta says. Ideally, look for a
physiatrist or rehabilitation specialist with an interest in sports medicine.
If none is available, look for an orthopaedist. A rheumatologist can also be
helpful, particularly for tendinitis and arthritic problems.
"If you have some disposable income, consider working with
an athletic trainer, so you can learn how to do the exercises in the right way
and at the right level," he recommends.