In part one of this series on preventing sport and lifting injuries, we covered the importance of training support muscles when it comes to recovering from past or current injuries and preventing future ones. Here in part two, we’ll be going over a few additional strategies to implement into your workout routine if you’re recovering from an injury or wish to prevent re-injury or new injuries later down the line.

The first of these strategies is to stretch before exercising—a process which is different for every activity. It is also important that you are properly recovering between exercises and giving your body the necessary rest it needs. The final recommendation is to learn proper form, either from a physical trainer or by studying online. There is always room for improvement in form even for those who have been exercising for years.

While reading the strategies below, keep in mind that this is not a replacement for medical advice or a routine set by a physical therapist specialist.

Stretching Before Exercising

When it comes to stretching, doing resistance and compound Olympic barbell exercises will require a different stretching routine from doing cardio-based exercises and sports. For cardio, you will want to get fully limber and start with stretches that focus on your hamstrings followed by your hips, thighs, calves and other basic stretches. If you have had serious exercise before, this includes using your environment to stretch as well as sitting down on the floor for more reach and utility. Finally, do some light walking, and depending on the sport, some low effort warm up with the ball or whatever sport you happen to be playing.

With resistance and lifting exercises, you will not want to get completely limber and will instead want to warm up in a different way. The best way is to start by doing your exercise with just the bar itself, potentially combined with a few supporting exercises. The idea behind this is that you do not want to be completely limber, and that a little tension will help with the power of your lifts and prevent you from hurting yourself if you push hard. It is recommended to do 3 sets of low weight warm-up exercises, then move on to your main lifts. This applies whether you go with high-weight, low rep sets or high rep, low weight exercises.

Properly Recovering Between Exercises

For proper recovery, this means giving your body what it needs to repair muscles, which will protect your other muscles as well as joints and ligaments. This means getting the proper amount of sleep, specifically 7–8 hours to give your body enough REM sleep to start properly repairing the micro-tears formed from exercise. Don’t forget to eat enough protein and meet your other food macro-nutrient goals to support proper repair. You can also do foam rolling to reduce lactic acid, which contributes to muscle soreness even if it’s not the primary cause.

Ensuring Proper Form

Finally, make sure you have the correct form. Incorrect form can lead to a lot of issues down the line. Even if you are currently not experiencing any pain, it is always necessary  to use proper form because problems add up. Eventually you will start to experience problems if you push yourself too hard to maintain proper form on every rep. So if you’re currently recovering from an injury, start from the beginning and work your way back up!