1. Blend resistance training and cardiovascular training
The most important part of choosing your exercise routine is picking an activity that you enjoy. With that being said, the more variability that you can include in your routine, the more well rounded your fitness will be and the healthier your body will be in the long run. If your exercise of choice is primarily weightlifting, try and incorporate at least 2 days of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise. Likewise, if you are a runner or tennis player, try spending two days a week performing sport-specific resistance training to strengthen your muscles and joints to build durability.
2. Take time to train your joints specifically
Most active individuals know that cardiovascular training (running, cycling, swimming) and weight training (barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells etc.) should be supplemented with stretching and warming up, but most individuals don’t take the time to actually improve the capacity of their joints. Spending time during the week improving your joints capacity (range of motion, stability, etc) will not only improve your quality of exercise, but also help reduce injuries and improve your long term ability to pick up new activities.
3. Take recovery as seriously as training
Recovery is a very mutli-dimensional topic and is heavily dependent upon the frequency/intensity of your training as well as factors such as age, training history, etc. In general, recovery can include activities such as sleeping, eating, stretching, and using modalities such as heat and cold. There are many other ways of recovery but these are a few of the basics that can be used by an individual. Nutrition and sleep are two topics that can be covered at length but most individuals are aware that improving your quality and quantity of sleep as well as adhering to good nutritional guidelines most of the time will heavily impact your ability to recover. If you are training hard or are new to training, try and block out extra time for more sleep, be sure to eat a healthy meal before an after training and take time to stretch on your own during non-training days.
4. Be mindful of your posture and ergonomics at work
Often times when individuals injury their spine while training, it is not necessarily the activity they were performing at the time of the injury that perpetuated the injury, but rather an injury caused by partaking in strenuous activity after being sedentary and in poor posture throughout your day. If you are mindful of keeping a neutral spine while seated throughout the day and take frequent microbreaks to stand up and move around, you will be much less likely to come to the gym feeling stiff and being injury prone. It is also crucial that if you are training first thing in the morning or after a long work day that you take the time to warm up properly before partaking in any strenuous activity.
Breathing is one of the most fundamental and frequent physical activities that our bodies perform throughout the day. If your normal pattern of breathing is not optimal you may not be stabilizing your spine properly during both activities of daily living and physical exercise. Additionally, taking shallow breaths through your chest can increase tension in the muscles attaching to your neck and your shoulder blade. Proper breathing through your diaphragm should have minimal chest elevation with 360 degree expansion through your abdomen. Building this habit throughout your day and taking the time to practice proper breathing will improve your spinal stability and lead to decreased injuries and improved performance in the gym.