8 Tips for Pain-Free Exercise

1. Warm Up

Everyone’s pressed for time, and you want to get in and out of the gym quickly and efficiently. Who has time for warmups?
You do, if you’re smart.
“Not properly warming up is probably the biggest reason people are in pain when they exercise,” says Jason Barone, PT, DPT, regional clinical director of Professional Physical Therapy in Connecticut. He recommends taking between five and ten minutes to do a dynamic warmup before you start a session; think lunges with an upper-body twist, bodyweight squats or a light walk. Warming up can improve range of motion and blood flow to your muscles and joints, decreasing discomfort. Plus, you’ll activate the muscles that you’ll use during your workout, which means you’ll get more out of your gym time.

2. Keep It Slow and Steady

It’s tempting to hit the gym every day or lift a lot of weight right off the bat. After all, we all want to see results right now!
However, whether it’s running too far or too fast, or using weights that are too heavy, that extra effort may be more than your body is conditioned to handle. “When this happens, the body does not have an opportunity to move with the appropriate mechanics, and as you become fatigued. The forces are too great to handle. As a result, the body compensates in various ways to achieve what is being asked of it, and injury occurs soon after,” says Klaus Dobra, PT, DPT, CSCS, physical therapist at Physio Logic in Brooklyn.
Instead, start simple and don’t rush things. Take the time to learn proper movement patterns and form, especially when it comes to strength training. As you build your fitness base, gradually increase the intensity and/or length of your workouts from there. “It’s always easier to add something on,” notes Barone. He also recommends having a concrete plan for each workout and keeping an exercise journal, which can let you see your progression and spot areas that need adjustment. [Full Article]