Exercise safety is vital for avoiding injury and maintaining good health. As a personal trainer, it’s important that you make sure that your client knows how to avoid injuries by making use of the correct equipment, protecting themselves in hot weather, warming up and stretching properly. You also need to teach them the importance of drinking water when they exercise.
Regular physical activity is imperative for good health. While there is a chance of injury with any sort of physical activity, the benefits of staying active far outweigh the risks.
The risk of exercise injury can be reduced by:
- Wearing the right shoes, gear and equipment,
- Drinking lots of water, and
- Warming up and stretching properly.
Advice for keeping safe during exercise
The personal trainer can obtain information and advice about exercise safety from a doctor, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist. Alternatively, they can consult a sporting association regarding the correct sporting technique as well as equipment.
Some guidelines for general exercise safety include the following:
- Consider the technique used and the load in addition to the individual’s condition, for example, injury history and fitness level.
- If a participant has a previous injury or medical condition make sure that they consult a health practitioner who specialises in sports medicine or another similarly qualified individual.
- Ensure that the participant is fit enough before increasing the speed of any exercise as making someone perform an exercise that he or she is not fit enough to do can increase the risk of injury.
- Should a particular exercise cause a participant pain or discomfort they must avoid it. Do not allow participants to ignore their body’s signals of fatigue, discomfort and pain.
- Make sure that the fitness participant cross-trains with other sports and exercises to reduce the risk of overtraining.
- Make sure that the participant has at least one recovery day (preferably two) every week.
- Injuries need rest and trying to work through the pain will cause more damage to soft muscle tissue and delay healing.
Don’t bounce while you stretch
It is mistakenly believed that bouncing as you stretch (ballistic stretching) helps muscles to stretch further. Sudden overstretching stimulates the stretch reflex so causing the muscles to contract even tighter in an attempt to avoid injury. Bouncing is counterproductive as it can cause minute tears to the muscle tissue which are experienced as muscle soreness or tenderness. This is quite the opposite of the microscopic tears that are caused to muscles during training and cause the muscle to rebuild stronger!
Suggestions to avoid bouncing during stretching include:
- Concentrate on slow, sustained stretches.
- Maintain the stretch for approximately 10 to 20 seconds.
- Once the muscle feels comfortable slowly increase the stretch and then hold again.
Avoid standing toe-touches entirely. Bending down to touch your toes with straight legs can overstretch your lower back muscles and hamstrings. This will also stress your vertebral discs. Adding in a twisting movement to the toe-touch can result in damage to your joints.
As an alternative, stretch your hamstrings as well as lower back muscles by putting one foot on a little bench or chair with both of your legs slightly bend so as not to stretch the knee joints as well as keeping your back straight, gently reach forward with your arms.
You can also stretch your hamstrings by lying on your back with both of your knees bent. Straighten one leg by raising it towards the ceiling. Keep your knee slightly bent. Support this leg by putting both hands behind your knee. Hold and repeat for the other leg. You should sense the stretch on the back of the thigh on your straight leg.
If you’re keen to learn more about teaching people how to exercise safely then you need to do our Personal Training Diploma. For more information, please follow this link.