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How can I prevent sports and exercise injuries?

To prevent injuries while exercising, focus on strength and balance workouts. Research shows that workout programs focusing on strength and balance reduce the risk for sudden injuries—like strains and torn ligaments—as well as overuse injury, such as ongoing knee pain.

You don't have to be a body-builder to benefit from strength training. A good strength training routine twice a week works all your major muscle groups: legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms. You can:

  • lift dumbbells
  • use weight machines
  • use resistance bands
  • do body-weight exercises like pushups and sit-ups
  • try yoga or heavy gardening

Balance training may involve moves like walking backward, standing on one leg or practicing standing up from a seated pose. If you work out at a gym, ask a trainer for advice.

Listen to your body. Mild soreness is normal, but sharp pain and sore or swollen joints mean you've overdone it. The good news is, with a dedicated routine, you'll see improvements in your strength and stamina in only a few weeks.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Falls, exercise and participation in sports cause most sprains and strains. Although these injuries cannot always be avoided, there are safety tips you can use to prevent them:

  • Start an exercise program or activity slowly.
  • Increase the intensity and duration of exercise and activity gradually.
  • Warm up your muscles with easy stretching before engaging in physical activity.
  • Do not overdo it. Slow down if muscles or joints begin to hurt. Stop when you are tired.
  • Cool down for five minutes after vigorous exercise.
  • Wear shoes that fit and are appropriate for the exercise or sport you are doing.
  • Wear proper equipment when playing sports (e.g., kneepads, wrist guards or helmets).
  • Cross train or alternate activities or exercises to rest your muscles. For example, walk one day, and ride a bike the next.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.