Ali True Shares Strategies to Avoid Injury while Getting Fit

Many of us start the new year with good intentions, eager to get back in shape and lose those stubborn pounds gained over the holidays.

“But you need to ‘be smarter before you go harder,’” advises Ali True, founder of True Balance Studio in Anneslie.

Too many people jump into hardcore training programs they’re not ready for, she says. The result? Derailing injuries.

“The biggest reason people drop off from their fitness plans by mid-January is because they’ve gotten hurt, or they’re experiencing pain when they work out,” Ali says. “We all have hurdles that often make our health and wellness not top priority. This takes us further and further from the person we need to be better. Jumping back into a training program needs to be slow and progressive, to avoid injury. Our bodies change as we get older, the structure of our spine changes, our bodies are less forgiving and more vulnerable. We need to be mindful about how hard we can push and smart about the form this needs to be achieved.”

In the exercises that follow, Ali demonstrates some gentle ways to prevent injury in our quest to get more fit.

Use Band Rows to Improve Posture

Driving and excessive sitting at a desk compromise our posture. Choose a band that is taut enough to challenge the muscles. Wrap the band around a stable object. Hold the handles, pull the hands toward the chest, keep elbows close to the body and squeeze shoulder blades together for 5 seconds. Release slowly and repeat 10 times.  

Stretch the Chest Using Door or Wall

Spending hours looking down at screens can shorten our chest and shoulder muscles. Increasing flexibility takes strain off the neck and may reduce headaches. Face the wall; raise arm to shoulder height; bend the arm 90 degrees, bring the elbow to the wall, using the wall as resistance, and gently turn away. Maintain light stretch across chest and shoulders for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side. 

Use a Spiky Ball to Massage the Feet 

Abusing our feet by excessive walking or standing in improper shoes can cause joint misalignment and the arch to flatten. Massaging your foot with a spiky ball increases circulation and reduces the risk of injury from exercise. Sit in a chair or stand, then roll each foot, one at a time, over the ball in any direction. Apply as much pressure as you can tolerate for 30 seconds, two to three times per foot.

Calf Stretches to Reduce Pain

Tight calves can lead to pain in the ankles, knees and hips. Stand on a step; drop one heel at a time; reach the heel toward the floor and hold for 30 seconds. Only stretch to a tolerable level. Repeat two to three times on each side.  

Strengthen the Gluteus Muscles 

The glutes are essential for proper alignment of the hips, knees and spine. Proper alignment reduces pain and injury to the joints. Use a resistance loop band; place the band just above the ankles, feet shoulder-width apart. The band should be taut but not over-stretched. Walk sideways 10 steps then switch directions. Do not drag the foot. Make sure the knees stay in line with the foot and the toes are faced forward throughout the entire movement.