Sitting at a computer desk full-time caused the worst nagging injury I've ever had. However, many different variables also contributed to it. Don't sleep on these 4 rookie mistakes:
1. Excessive reps lifting weights in the gym. As athletes, we've all been guilty of it at one point or another. Thinking we had such an "awesome workout" because we're "so incredibly sore" multiple days afterwards. If you're so sore that it hurts to walk, or go up/down stairs, you're not fueling your body properly (see rookie mistake # 2).
More isn't always better. When I was in college, a lot of muscle magazines would talk about "burn out" sets of 10 to 12 reps of this, 12 to 15 reps of that. What I didn't realize was those guys weren't sitting at a desk 8 to 10 hours per day, battling constant gravity and repetitive strain all day long. I learned the hard way to take this into consideration.
Getting that burn, or soreness, gives athletes that instant gratification that what they're doing HAS to be good for them. Mainly, because it's such a drastically different feeling that they're used to having.
Nowadays, I'm not concerned about how much I do in a workout (reps, time, weight) if I'm so sore that I can't work out the next day. Instead, I'm much more motivated about how energetic, pain-free, and strong I feel when I wake up the next morning.
2. Eating nutritionless foods. I talk a lot about eating real, healthy, nutrient-dense foods. Sometimes I come off as being perfect or whatever. Keep in mind, I'm far from perfect. I used to be an expert on Double Stacks from Wendy's and 6-packs of Taco Bell tacos.
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -Hippocrates
The point is, we've got to stop thinking of it as simply "eating food". Instead, we need to think of it as "fueling our body optimally with high-performance fuel". A little over the top? Maybe. But whatever it takes to make us realize how detrimental fast food, junk food, and soda are for us.
If you want an eye-opener, check out a food documentary. A couple good ones are Food, Inc. and The Gerson Miracle.
One last thing. One of the main reasons people don't eat healthy is because they don't know what foods are healthy and what are not. Food companies are so sketchy with their marketing approaches these days. If you're overwhelmed about what healthy foods to buy when you go grocery shopping, check out my most important (simple) tip here.
3. Drinking caffeine EVERY day. There's such a huge misconception about caffeine these days.
Many people will talk about how caffeine's not bad for you. In low doses, they may be right. But in higher doses, it does a serious number on the hydration levels in your body. Combine that with (a) not drinking enough water, (b) sugar intake, and (c) dairy intake, then it will lead to a recipe for disaster when it comes to your muscle health.
A few years ago, I drank a TON of caffeine to get through the workday. Never coffee, it was mainly sugar-free energy drinks, or sometimes soda. There was a point where I became dependent on caffeine. I couldn't focus on my workday without it. Then, I got to a point where I couldn't focus even if I did drink caffeine.
I gave up caffeine 100% four years ago. I haven't craved it since and I've got plenty of energy these days. I never really get tired throughout the day. But when bed time comes around, I am out like a light. A lot of my daily energy comes from proper hydration and drinking one green juicy per day (homemade vegetables, fruits, and almonds, blended with distilled water).
I'll never go back to caffeine, unless it's a safety issue (driving at night on a long road trip or something). I know what you're prob saying, "that's crazy, I could never give up caffeine". If that's you, read this article here on hydration.
4. Long distance running with bad form. I'm a former heel striker. I've battled (and bounced back from) chronic pain in both legs, mainly knee tendonitis and shin splints. The main variable that caused these was running LSD (long, slow distances).
Today, I love to run/sprint anything less than 400 meters (1/4 mile). I'll basically only run more if my life depends on it. Running anything more than that is a completely different dynamic. There are many people that run LSD correctly. But they've put tons of mental thought and skill work into it.
Running is one of the most technical sports that exists. But a lot of people take that for granted. I used to be guilty of this. Back in the day, I'd sit at a desk all day, I wouldn't study running mechanics at all, I'd listen to music when I ran after work, and I'd heel strike like it was my job. I did all this just to get a short high from completing a full-body running workout. The main outcome was destroying my muscles through massive amounts of non-functional, repetitive impact. I could've gotten a much more effective, and pain-free, workout in many other ways.
Then one day, I took a CrossFit Running certification. It completely changed the way I looked at running. The functional mechanics I learned are crucial to anyone who has never really paid attention to their running technique in the past. I wrote a report about my experience of the certification. It contains the 14 most important tips to functional running form that I learned that weekend. You can download that report for free here.
Giving 100% physically, with little to no mental focus, just doesn't cut it anymore. It'll only lead us down a road of bodily destruction that's completely avoidable, simply with a little hard work and determination.
Take care y'all!