The Minimalist Guide to Avoiding Unnecessary Training Injuries

![Don’t End Up Like This Guy](https://imgur.com/NOjnyvp.jpg)

*This is a guest article by [JC Deen](https://www.jcdfitness.com/).*

Injuries — the bane of every athlete, casual exerciser, and weekend warrior. They happen when we least expect them, and wreak havoc on not only our [physical](https://evidencemag.com/exercise-oxidative-stress), but mental state as well.

No one is ever trying to get hurt, but our actions might suggest otherwise. Like most physical pursuits, there will always an element of risk and reward.

While some of the activities we participate in are [closely calculated and thought out](https://evidencemag.com/how-to-build-muscle-podcast), others are on a whim, and downright dangerous and dumb.

The goal of this piece is not meant to scare you into a cave or never to train again. The point is to help you consider a [more mindful](https://evidencemag.com/fat-loss-podcast) approach to your exercise preferences, and all of the smaller goals that are less important than your main endeavor.

### Pick Your Poison

Fitness and nutrition are obviously important in your life. Maybe you’re a strength athlete. Maybe you’re a competitive marathoner. Maybe you’re purely interested in aesthetics and spend your time doing mostly [bodybuilding training](https://evidencemag.com/max-muscle-plan-podcast/).

Regardless of your performance, strength, or [vanity-based priorities](https://evidencemag.com/lean-physique-podcast), you run the risk of injury when regularly [pushing your body to the limit](https://evidencemag.com/athletes-heart-1).

Taking the time to minimize that risk is not only a good idea, it’s time well spent and possibly gained. One idea you should always consider is just how important your [preferred method of training](https://evidencemag.com/exercise-motivation) is to you.

Every training style comes with [its own risks](https://evidencemag.com/ironman-bodybuilder), but if you’re not sure of them going in, you’re setting yourself up for a big surprise, or disappointment. When you realize another training style might be better suited for your longterm goals and lifestyle, it might come at a cost.

Example: Some folks will choose to pursue powerlifting even if their main goal is aesthetics. They belief that getting strong, and eating copious amounts of food will equate to a bigger, more aesthetic body.

While there maybe some truth to this idea, there’s also the factor that most powerlifting veterans have experienced injury in their careers.

If your goal is purely aesthetics, there are definitely better, safer approaches.

You need to learn how to analyze your training choices and the tradeoffs, and then make a decision as to what’s best for you.

Unless you’re a professional athlete, you need to ask yourself the following questions when deciding on your training program:

Does it make you feel good?

Is it fun?

Does it sit well with your temperament and worldview?

Is it relatively safe and something you can and are willing to do [longterm](https://evidencemag.com/good-habits-podcast)?

### The Middle Path – Injury Prevention in the Face of High Probability

Let’s say you’ve chosen your training plan. It’s in line with your goals and temperament, but you know there’s some risk involved.

Pulling a competition-heavy single deadlift, or training vigorously to make a triathlon qualifier all comes with a great chance for an ‘oh shit’ moment. A moment that could lead to injury, which leaves you out of the game for weeks and possibly months.

Your goal here should be to take every measure possible to prevent injuries and stay safe.

For every activity and sport, there are certain protocols you can do that will prevent injury and promote recovery.

It can be optimizing training times, work schedules, [sleep habits](https://evidencemag.com/fat-loss-sleep-podcast/), prehab and rehab work, daily mobility drills, massage, ice baths, and/or all of the above.

For instance, the powerlifting athlete is only as strong as his or her weakest link. In their case, lots of attention to strengthening the weak areas will go a long way in avoiding injury.

You should pay great attention to flaws in your own anatomy, and take measures to bridge the gap, so to speak. Weak coming out of the hole on your back squats? Work your [glute](https://evidencemag.com/glute-podcast) medius and strengthen your abductors.

Having [shoulder pain](https://www.jcdfitness.com/2011/11/shoulder-savers-how-to-keep-your-shoulders-healthy-post-rehab/) from lots of pressing? Add in some [Self Myofascial Release](https://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/06/13/trigger-point-release/) (SMR), mobility, and a hefty dose of upper back rowing to balance things out.

For the endurance athlete, lots of SMR, massage, and foam rolling the lower extremities is definitely a must if you want to minimize overuse injuries.

I know these movements are tedious, and hardly glamorous, but they can make a huge difference in the longevity of your training efforts.

You get the point. For every activity, there are a plethora of options you can do that will minimize your risk of injury. The trick is making sure you prioritize the extra stuff just like you do with your training.

### Eliminate The Ultra High-Risk Activities

Finally, while this idea should be fairly simple, it’s still overlooked above all the others in my opinion. To me, ultra high-risk activities are the ones you’re not well prepared for.

You know, the stuff you haven’t done in months or years, like high impact sports, running, lifting, or whatever else you just haven’t practiced in a while, or ever for that matter.

It’s like the ex-college football athlete who decides to run an obstacle course race with no preparation, and ends snapping his ACL after he slips in the mud.

Or the bodybuilder who decides, at the last minute, to play some ‘touch’ football at the weekend barbecue and ends up dislocating his shoulder diving for a touchdown catch.

It can even be something like riding a motorcycle, or operating machinery in a high stress environment with no previous experience. To make an example, I recently spent 2 months in Thailand, and all the rage was to rent a scooter to get around town.

For me, this posed a very high-risk activity and I avoided it altogether. Sure, it cost me a little more to ride around in a taxi, but at least I wasn’t waking up in a hospital with road rash and broken limbs.

Was I being too cautious? Perhaps, but my training, and overall wellbeing is worth way more than being able to get to the coffee shop in 2 minutes rather than walking for 10.

I hope you see the point.

All these decisions should be weighed against your ultimate goal. Is a backyard game of football worth the risk of injuring yourself to the point of completely mucking up your [fitness routine](https://evidencemag.com/good-habits-podcast) for the next 6 months?

Probably not. If it is, then what you’re doing is of little value, and you should find something else worthy of your efforts.

### Prioritize Your Fitness Goals

I don’t know about you, but my personal priority is to live a healthy, stress-free, and injury-free life.

Fitness, strength training, and bodybuilding are important to me on many levels, so important that I refuse to partake in certain activities that could put me at risk of immediate, or long-term injury.

Am I missing out? Nah. I make the rules in my life.

Again, this doesn’t mean you should be a wimp, obsess over your [training](https://www.jcdfitness.com/2013/10/chasing-strength-gains-for-fat-loss-and-why-im-not-an-absolutist/), and [diet](https://evidencemag.com/flexible-dieting-basics/) to a point you never have any fun. That’s not the goal at all.

Just be mindful of the risk and the reward when presented with a high-risk activity.

What is a more rewarding scenario: a year of injury-free training or some glory from an afternoon pickup basketball game?

Remember this: you’re ultimately the one in charge, and the best way to deal with injuries is avoiding them at all costs.

What do you do to avoid injuries?

What’s the worst injury you’ve ever gotten, and how did it happen?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

> Did you enjoy this article? [Click here to check out my book, *Flexible Dieting](https://evidencemag.com/flexible-dieting-book)*. Want an even more in-depth education on how to lose weight, build muscle, and get stronger and healthier? [Join Evidence Mag Elite](https://evidencemag.com/elite) and get member’s-only reports and interviews.

Leave a Comment