Can muscle strain be prevented?

Strains can be prevented by regularly participating in a resistance training program and maintaining adequate flexibility for the demands of your activities. Proper nutrition and hydration are also necessary to allow optimal health of muscles and tendons. (This answer provided for NATA by the Weber State University Athletic Training Education Program.)

Muscle strains can be prevented by taking precautionary measures, using common sense and by leaving your ego at the door. Muscle strains can be caused by a number of different factors that are usually preventable.

Start by focusing on proper form and using appropriate weights while working out. Improper form and uncontrolled, ballistic movements will most definitely cause injury sooner or later. Usually the injury occurs in the form of a muscle strain, or in a worse case, a muscle tear. This is one reason why trainers stress the importance of controlling the weight, using proper form and maintaining the correct body alignment. It is extremely important to maintain this focus towards the end of your workout. When your body is exhausted, you will naturally start compensating and 'cheating' in exercises. A single lack of focus, or common sense, is all it takes to injure yourself.

Using proper weight is also extremely important to preventing muscle strains. It is good to push yourself during each workout but it needs to be done appropriately. Jumping up in weight too quickly or performing an unfamiliar exercise with a 'blindly' chosen weight isn't smart. The body needs a certain amount of stress in order to respond and adapt but within reason.

You can also help stave off muscle strains by taking some preventative measures. First off, make sure that you are warming up properly before working out. A lazy two minutes on the elliptical doesn't count. A proper warm up is necessary to prevent injury and to make sure that your body is primed for a good workout. Don't make the mistake of wasting the first couple exercises of your workout because your body is still warming up.

Stretching is a great way to ensure muscle, tendon and joint health. Unfortunately, stretching is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of health and fitness. If your muscles are chronically short and tight then they are more susceptible to injury. Make sure that a proper stretching routine is a staple in your workout program.

Lastly, prevent muscle strains by making sure your body is getting what it needs in terms of nutrition. If your body is lacking in the nutrients and building blocks it needs for repair and recovery then you setting yourself up for lackluster workouts and an increased chance of injury. Make sure your nutrition supports the demands you are putting on your body. Keep the water intake high and don't neglect sleep. Rest and sleep is when your body is repairing, adapting and getting stronger, so make sure it has enough time to do so!

There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of a muscle strain. Before you start playing a sport, make sure you've conditioned your muscles and are in good shape before you start playing the sport or participating in a lot of physical activity. This may include strengthening your muscles through weight-lifting or other conditioning activities, as well as keeping your muscles flexible. Each time before you begin physical activity, try to stretch and warm up your muscles properly. If you're prone to injury, make sure you wear proper footwear and any other necessary equipment, such as braces, that may protect your muscles.

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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.