By Jade Mckee
As a fitness professional, it is your role to ensure that your clients are performing optimally – while at the same time making sure appropriate injury prevention strategies are adhered to.
What are some of the ways you can help your clients reduce their risk of injury in the gym?
Performing an appropriate warm up
The time you have with your client is precious and can be limited each week. In the early stages of working with your client, teach them how to complete an effective warm up and encourage them to have this completed BEFORE your session begins. That way they will be ready to get to work immediately when your session begins.
The aim of a warm up is to:
- Increase body temperature and blood flow – which will promote increased flexibility and strength.
- Increase the client’s overall muscle activation – this could include completing specific movement patterns, relevant to the training session that will be taking place.
– For example, performing bodyweight squats or lunges prior to a lower body training session. The client will also be able to work on the activation of any weak or inhibited muscles through the use of isometric exercises. These exercises can be progressed to the client performing specific isolation exercises to target a weak point, with specific corrective exercises being prescribed for them if necessary.
- Increase the client’s range of motion – this can be achieved through stretching, or self-myofascial release.
– Myofascial release can be performed with tools such as a foam roller, a massage stick or ball. It has the benefits of improving a client’s range of motion, improving the quality of their movement, and decreasing tone in muscles that may be overactive.
– Various methods of stretching may be included in a program to reduce the risk of injury. Generally, dynamic stretches should be completed prior to a workout. Dynamic stretches have the benefit of improving a client’s flexibility, balance, coordination, and proprioception. Static stretches should be completed following the session – to assist in improving static flexibility. PNF stretching is an alternative type of stretch which can also be effective in increasing a client’s static flexibility – but without the decrease in muscle force production that can occur with static stretching.
Use of correct technique and training parameters
One of the major injury prevention tools you have at your disposal is your own ability to monitor your client throughout the session – and ensure they are using correct technique.
- Your client must have good posture at ALL times.
- You need to be cueing as required – to ensure muscle activation is sequenced correctly, and that breathing and bracing are also being performed correctly.
- You need to ensure your client has adequate flexibility to achieve the range of motion required to safely, correctly, and efficiently perform the exercises you program for them.
- Your client must also have sufficient stability to perform the movement correctly.
Without adequate flexibility and stability, the risk of injury will be increased. If a client is simply not able to meet the positional demands of an exercise, it may be that you need to look for an alternative exercise which they ARE able to perform, while you work as a team to make the required improvements.
The client’s training plan will need to be programmed and periodised specific to their individual abilities and needs, and progressively overloaded accordingly. You need to remind your clients to listen to their bodies when training, providing you with feedback if something doesn’t feel right. This will be a good indicator that you will need to take a moment to stop and reassess, correct technique or adjust load if required.
Active recovery can help to remove built up lactate from the training session, and may be followed by stretching. It is a technique that can also be implemented on non-training days, and may include activities such as walking, cycling, yoga, or swimming.
Adequate rest, rehydration and nutrition
In order to maintain a high level of performance and a reduced risk of injury, optimising sleep, adequate rehydration and adherence to a structured, personalised nutritional plan are also essential to address with your clients.
Are you looking to understand how to apply injury prevention strategies into your training plans, so you can ensure clients are maximizing results while remaining free from pain and injury?
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Brukner and Kahn (2007) Clinical Sports Medicine. North Ryde, Australia: McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd.
Performance PT Coaching Certification Level 1. Clean Health Fitness Institute 2020.
Chapter 7 – Principles of Injury Prevention. Sourced from worldathletics.org. Viewed 22nd June 2020.<https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjizqqNh43qAhUBILcAHWDlC-IQFjAOegQICBAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.worldathletics.org%2Fdownload%2Fdownload%3Ffilename%3D79e060dd-f467-4eff-b59d-66f56f82a82b.pdf%26urlslug%3DChapter%25207%253A%2520Principles%2520of%2520Injury%2520Prevention&usg=AOvVaw2wxepKe3A0Irm1FEAl9-pj>Kay AD, Blazevich AJ . Effect of acute static stretch on maximal muscle performance: a systematic review. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.Jan 2012 : 44(1) :154-164.