Take steps to ensure a healthy body later in life
KUNSAN AIR BASE - October is National Physical Therapy Month and this year's theme is "Fit after 50." While most of the active duty population at Kunsan is under the age of 50, it is important to take the right steps earlier in life to ensure a healthy body later in life.
Injury prevention is an important aspect of preserving our bodies, and one of the most common sources of injuries that providers see at the 8th Medical Group is improper weightlifting.
Fortunately, most weightlifting injuries can be easily prevented. The first and most important rule to remember when hitting the gym is to lift only what you can handle. It is always better to lift less and then increase the amount gradually.
Another important rule to remember is to lift in a controlled and steady motion. The more controlled the motion, the more challenged the muscles are, leading to a better workout. The following are specific tips for different exercises:
Squats - Keep feet about shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward. Keep knees behind toes while squatting down and ensure knees line up with the second toe. A proper squat will feel challenging even with no weight.
Bench press - Elbows should not bend more than 90 degrees. If lying down, upper arms (triceps/biceps) will be parallel with the floor at this point. It is helpful to place a rolled towel on one's chest to keep the bar from going down too low. Going below this point subjects the shoulders to unnecessary stress and can lead to shoulder instability.
Lat pull-down - Pull the bar down in front of the body and not behind. Pulling the bar behind the body subjects the shoulder to unnecessary stress.
Military press - Position yourself so the weights are in front of your body and not behind your body.
Leg extension - Do not lock knees out or hyperextend knees at the end of the motion. This puts extra stress on the knees. Instead, push body weight until knees are straight, but not locked out.
When choosing which lifting exercises to perform at the gym, consider reciprocal exercises. This means performing pairs of exercises that oppose each other. For example, bench press (pushing) and rowing (pulling) would be reciprocal exercises. More examples include bicep curls/tricep presses, pull-downs/military press, and leg press/hamstring curls.
Lifting should be performed two to four times per week with ample rest between days. Weightlifting breaks down the muscles to a certain extent, depending on how much one lifts, and the rest period allows the muscles time to recover and rebuild to stronger tissue. Many people split up workout days by performing upper body exercises on one day and lower body exercises on the second day.
If injured while lifting, stop immediately and rest. Applying ice for 10-15 minutes to the injured site can reduce swelling and pain.
Recovering from a muscle strain takes time. When returning to weightlifting after an injury, always start with lighter weight and slowly increase the weight when stable and comfortable.