Two months ago, I had a minor injury occur on my hamstring, which resulted in me not being able to squat, deadlift or power clean for a whole month. I decided not to do any leg exercises for a whole four weeks to let my hamstring recover. This, of course, could’ve been avoided if I had taken the necessary precautions to prevent injury while strength training. I learned my lesson at the time and swore to never repeat that same mistake. By following the guidelines below, you can hinder the possibility of injuring yourself in the future. Without further ado, here’s the short list:
- Always perform warm ups before your exercises. Warming up allows your muscles to get ready to the exercises’ motions and oncoming weight increases. By getting your muscles warmed up and increasing your heart rate, you are preparing your muscles for activity and letting them know that you’re about to use them. On Rippetoe’s routine, you should always warm up with an empty bar and then gradually increase the weights slowly until your work sets. Take a look at the warming up page for more information on how to properly warm up.
- Make sure you’re 100% certain you can lift the weight. I’ve seen it too many times and it’s happened to me on one occasion (that resulted in my injury!): people (usually newbies) get too cocky and load up more weight on the bar then they can handle. Besides witnessing weights tumble down onto the floor, the unlucky ones will receive a jolt of pain in specific muscles. My advice: increase your weights slowly and don’t rush anything. Remember, there’s always the next workout to increase in weight!
- Stretch your muscles after every workout. Usually overlooked and forgotten, stretching after your workouts will help with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which is basically next-day soreness and/or pain (a lot of rookies new to training will feel it). Stretching is beneficial for keeping your muscles happy, as it allows your muscles to strengthen, increase the range within a joint, and more blood and oxygen to pass through (thanks to the mechanical means of stretching the muscle). This way, future cramps are prevented and you’ll be ready for your next workout without (much) pain. Sometimes people also tend to stretch before their workouts. I consider this good practice as well and highly recommend it to start off your training on the right foot.