Go to any gym this time of year and it’ll be packed full of people working hard to get that bikini body. Working out is excellent and should be incorporated into daily routine. It doesn’t just help us look good, but it helps us feel good too. Exercise is a great stress-reliever, it can help battle mental health issues, reduce the risk of major illness, improve sleep quality and energy and overall help us lead happier lives!
But radically increasing your workout plan, adding more weight, new classes or running a few extra miles can cause injuries, many of which are totally preventable. Don’t let an injury stop you from achieving your goals!
In this article, I will share some of my knowledge on the most common gym injuries and how you can prevent them from happening to you.
Why do People Get Injured at the Gym?
From experience, there are two main reasons for gym injuries:
Overloading: a sudden increase or too much volume of exercise, weights that are too heavy, doing too many reps, and overall pushing it too far. This results in the body breaking down due to the stresses placed upon it, causing injuries. There is nothing wrong with wanting to up your exercise regime or push yourself further, but do this gradually and seek advice from a professional.
Poor technique: this is most common with weights and exercises like squats or lunges. When starting a new type of exercise or class which the body isn’t used to, we tend to see poor technique. Technique is hugely important in preventing injury. Always seek professional help to make sure your posture, alignment and technique are spot on, helping you prevent injuries.
So, What are the Most Common Gym Injuries?
Having worked as a physiotherapist for over 15 years, I have seen my fair share of injuries. But there are a few that crop up time and time again. These are:
- Shoulder and neck issues
- Lower back injuries
- Knee problems
- Muscle strains
- Foot and ankle problems
All of these issues cause pain and discomfort, loss of mobility, and affect quality of life. However, they are easily avoidable, so instead of simply treating the pain after it occurs, we like to advise our patients on how to prevent it in the first place.
My Top Tips for Preventing Gym Workout Injuries
You don’t have to do anything radical, just remember these three tips and you’ll likely avoid injury in the first place.
Don’t underestimate the power of the warm up!
Always start any workout with a gentle warm-up before partaking in any form of exercise or sport. It doesn’t have to be long, even 5 minutes is enough, to prepare your body for the demands ahead.
The reasons for warming up are simple:
- Slowly raise heart rate
- Increase blood flow to muscles
- Gently stretch muscles
- Increase body temperature
Not sure where to start? A simple warm-up routine you can do before any workout could include:
- Jogging on the spot – 30 seconds
- High knees – 30 seconds
- Jumping jack – 30 seconds
- Alternate lunges – 5 each side
- Mountain climbers – 5 each side
Don’t be Shy! Ask The Experts
If you are not experienced in the gym, you are starting a new class, or using a piece of equipment for the first time, always seek advice from an expert in your gym as they will be able to guide you safely with the correct technique and training volumes. There will always be someone around who can show you proper technique, so don’t be shy, they’ll be more than happy to help.
Listen to your body
This is really important. Pain, tightness, soreness, tingling is your body’s way of communicating with you, so don’t ignore it. It’s perfectly normal to feel achy and sore after exercise, especially when starting a new routine, returning to exercise after a break, or increasing the volume of exercise. Niggles and slight muscle pain can last only a few days and ease with a little rest. However, if you are unfortunate to develop an injury that lasts more than a few days, you should definitely visit a physiotherapist to get some expert advice and treatment so you can return as quickly as possible but also safely. Don’t leave it too long or the problem may get worse.