Many of us spend all day in the office sitting at a desk, then we blast our body at a bootcamp, go home afterwards and watch TV. It’s no wonder our poor muscles freak out. To protect your body, Dubai’s top fitness experts have given us a few tips on how to prevent injury and heal those aches and pains.
Don’t start with a stretch
Do you usually stretch each muscle before starting a workout? Zena Habi, co-founder of Fitness 02 (www.fitness02.com) and star of TV shows such as Al Rabeh Al Akbar (Dubai’s version of The Biggest Loser), debunks a fitness myth. ‘People think they have to stretch before exercise, but studies have shown that extensive stretching doesn’t help. Instead, raise the temperature of the muscle: when doing weights, start with the same range of motion but with a smaller weight; if you’re running, start by just walking. That said, if you have a particular problem spot, you should probably stretch that out.’
Dance it out
Ahlaam Ali, founder of Powwer Eat (www.powwereat.com), advises you to shake it before you work it. ‘Try muscle movement and music therapy before your workout: put on music you enjoy and let your body flow to the music. Start with medium-paced tunes, then gradually pick up the tempo. This will warm up the muscles by getting the blood flowing, which will warm up the joints. You can make up your own moves, but make sure you stretch and elongate yourself considerably.’
Massage those muscles
Matt Coe, from Inspire Fitness (056 105 7110), is an expert on the science of fitness – to avoid stiff muscles, he suggests a pre-workout rub-down. ‘Myofascia is the connective tissue that envelops all muscles: you want to loosen this to allow muscles to move more freely during a workout, to increase blood flow and nutrients to the muscles. How? You literally knead the muscles with a foam roller, which acts like a rolling pin and makes muscles more pliable. Buy one from mefitpro.com, then come to see me and I’ll teach you how to use it!’
Warm up on the mat
Noura El Imam, who runs Core Active (www.coredirection.com), advises Pilates-style warm-ups to avoid injury. ‘Try mat-based warm-ups such as pelvic tilts (imprint your spine onto the mat and then release), and hip rolls (rolling or peeling your spine off the mat and then back on the mat while knees are bent).’
Know your body
‘Don’t push yourself too far,’ says Zena Habi. ‘Sure, you might be sore the day after exercise, but if you’re sore for four or five days you’ve done too much. If you do have sore muscles afterwards, keep moving and stay active to diffuse the lactic acid and help relax the muscles.’
Derrick Branford, founder of American Fitness (www.americanfitness.me), reveals the techniques that elite athletes use to soothe sore muscles. ‘I was on an Olympic weightlifting team for six years so I know a thing or two about sore knees! I was around many Olympians from all sports, and we all use the same methods for recovery and prevention of injury. For instance, if we had a sudden onset of soreness or a slight injury, we used the RICE method:
Rest: Take a break from exercising the sore spot.
Ice: Apply ice to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes, with 10- to 15-minute breaks to avoid injury to the skin.
Compression: Keep the area lightly wrapped to keep inflammation at bay and increase circulation.
Elevation: Keep the injured area raised above the heart: this speeds recovery via waste elimination and improved circulation. Got a sore leg? Lie on your back with your leg elevated.’
Eat fish for dinner
Matt Coe offers a final nutritional tip. ‘If your muscles are sore after a workout and you want to keep things natural, eat plenty of fish. Omega 3 is a natural anti-inflammatory.’