Avoid Leg Injuries from Working Out
When you are working hard to improve the tone and shape of your body, the last thing you want or need is to hurt yourself.
If you perform an exercise incorrectly, injury can result -- and does, all too often. Doing too much, too fast is hazardous. Not warming up and/or using improper form are the most common factors in exercise related injury.
If a specific part of your body hurts after any exercise for whatever reason, stop doing the movement and check with a trainer. If no trainer is available put ice on the injured area and if it is not better in 24 hours, call a doctor.
When working the legs, if you have no previous problems with your knees or your back and you use proper form, commonly performed leg exercises such as those following, may be done with no concern.
General Exercise Guidelines
When doing any exercises, make sure you hold your stomach in and keep our torso stable. When extending legs, make sure not to lock your knees.
When you bend downward doing your lunges, do not bend too far forward or backward. Use no back movement at all. You also want to make sure our front knee does not go over your tow. If you go over your toe, you can put a lot of pressure on your kneecap area.
This is an exercise performed on an exercise machine. Extend your legs slowly without locking your knees. If you jerk your legs upward, you are just using momentum, not your muscles. You will not benefit from the exercise if done in that manner. Do not use too much weight on this machine, as it could be hard on the back.
This is an exercise performed on a machine and is excellent for the legs. It is also less strenuous on the kneecap area than the leg extension if done properly. Keep your torso stable, start low on the weight and build up progressively.
When working the back of the legs, or the hamstrings, be sure you have the right piece of equipment. For example, one that is newer and keeps your back from arching. Also, be sure you are not trying to lift too much weight as this could put undue strain on your back. Keep your torso stable.
You can perform squats with free weights or on a machine. A machine can help guide your back posture, relieving it of undue stress and assuring proper form. However, with proper form and free-weights, these are great for the entire leg and should not result in any discomfort. When doing squats with free-weights, be careful not to bend or flex your back too much. Keep it stable. The hip, knee and ankle should be all that moves. You need not -- in fact, should not -- go into a deep knee bend. Also, watch your knees to be sure they do not extend in front of your toes. Think of the squat as a sitting down motion; as if you were going to sit down in a chair but decided to get back up. Keep the back straight!
When you begin doing step-ups, start with a low surface to step onto and no weights. If you decide to increase the height later, be sure you do not go so high that your knee is parallel to the ground. As in the squats, you do not want your knee to go over your toe. Always keep your back straight and upright and be sure your whole foot is on the surface onto which you are stepping. Step-ups are great for the legs at any height 4-inches or higher. If you are uncomfortable at a higher height, lower the stepping surface again. You will still gain; in addition, the when you incorporate weights you will challenge the muscles sufficiently.
Avoid Shin Splints
Shin splints is a general term referring to pain in the front of the legs, usually relating to exercise. Starting a new type of exercise, or increasing intensity too quickly, can cause this pain. The best ways to avoid them are to: 1) increase your exercise intensity level gradually, 2) wear well-fitting shoes made specifically for your type of exercise, and 3) start a lower leg stretching and strengthening program (ask a health club staff member for advice).
General Guidelines: When you are using any kind of aerobic equipment, you must be sure you do not use any bars for support. Use bars only for balance, if needed. Keep your stomach held in and your chest up.
Stair Climbing Machines: These pieces of equipment are good for leg muscles but they can be hard on the knees. If you were predisposed to knee problems, you would be better off avoiding a stair-climbing machine. Also note, you can develop a knee problem with over use of this machine.
Biking: Biking is good for legs and good for the knees. It takes away the impact of many other exercises. While biking, be sure that when your leg is down at the bottom stroke you have a slight bend in your knee.
Elliptical Machines: These are a good choice for working legs and are very easy on the body. They are non-impact machines yet works very well for cardiovascular benefits.
You may also find of interest...
- Exercise Safety
- Food, Fitness and Fun
- Knee Pain Treatment Manual (It's F*R*E*E! No strings)
- Physical Activity Is Safe for Almost Everyone (Blog Post)
Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.