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How to avoid common injuries in the gym

GymPlus Team

March 20, 2023

How to avoid common injuries in the gym

         Table of contents 

While there are a lot of benefits to going to the gym, such as improving your physical and mental health, increasing your flexibility and strength, and boosting your confidence, there are some aspects that are often overlooked. Being eager to work out is great, but there are a few steps you need to take before, during, and after a workout so that you can avoid common injuries in the gym.

If you want to stay injury-free while working out in the gym, it’s crucial to follow some basic guidelines. First and foremost, only use equipment that you are familiar with and have used before. If you’re unsure about how to use a machine or piece of equipment, ask a trainer or staff member for assistance. It’s always a good idea to have an introductory session with a trainer to get a better understanding of how to use the equipment properly and safely. All Gym Plus members are entitled to one when the join. Finally, make sure to read and follow any instructions or warning labels on the equipment to avoid injury. By taking these simple precautions, you can reduce your risk of injury and stay on track with your fitness goals.

We’ve put together a list of common injuries that occur in the gym, and some best practises tips to avoid these. Continue reading to find out more.

how to avoid common injuries

Common injuries in the gym

Some of the most common injuries in the gym are listed below.

Strains & Sprains

A strain or sprain is when the muscle of the ligament is stretched beyond its limits, which leads to tears or damage. You will find these are common injuries if you are weightlifting, running, or doing other high-impact exercises.

How to prevent:

  • Warm up properly before working out
  • Use proper form and technique
  • Don’t go too hard too fast
  • Add stretching into your routine
  • Don’t exercise through any pain

Tendinitis

Another condition that occurs from weightlifting and running is when the tendons that connect the muscle to bones become inflamed.

How to prevent

  • Start off with low-impact exercises
  • Slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of workouts
  • Stretch before and after working out
  • Take rest days to allow your body to recover
  • Use proper equipment and form

Shoulder injuries

Rotator cuff tears and shoulder impingement syndrome are just two of the common should injuries that gym-goers suffer from as a result of heavy weight lifting or performing exercises with poor form.

shoulder pain

How to prevent

  • Slowly strengthen your shoulders by doing exercises such as the shoulder press and lateral raises
  • Ensure you are using proper form when lifting weights
  • Avoid overtraining
  • If you feel pain, don’t push through it
  • Take rest days to allow your body to recover

Knee injuries

Knee injuries, such as tearing your ACL or meniscus injuries (an injury to one of the bands of rubbery cartilage that act as shock absorbers for the knees), occur from exercises such as squats, lunges, and jumping.

How to prevent

  • Keep the muscles around the knee strong with exercises such as squats and lunges
  • Use proper form when doing squats and lunges
  • Avoid overtraining the knees
  • Gradually increase the intensity and duration of workouts
  • Wear proper footwear

Back Injuries

Muscle strains and herniated discs in your back can occur when you do exercises such as deadlifts and squats or use improper lifting techniques.

How to prevent

  • Ensure you back muscles are strong by doing exercises such as rows and pull-ups
  • Use proper form and technique
  • Avoid overtraining your back
  • Only use weights that you can lift. Avoid ones that are too heavy
  • Incorporate rest and recovery into your routine

Dehydration & Exhaustion

This doesn’t seem like an injury in the same sense as the others, but these two can be very dangerous and lead to more injuries if gym-goers do not drink enough water or rest when feeling fatigued.

drinking water in the gym

How to prevent

  • Drink water before, during, and after working out
  • Take breaks when you feel fatigued
  • Exercise in a well-ventilated area
  • Workout in light and breathable clothes

Overuse injuries

These types of injuries occur from repetitive motion, such as running or cycling and include stress fractures, shin splints and plantar fasciitis.

How to prevent

  • Cross-train with low-impact days
  • User proper form and technique to avoid overuse injuries
  • Stretch before and after exercise

How to avoid common Injuries in the Gym

Now that we know some of the common injuries people get in the gym, let’s take a closer look at how to avoid them.

Warm-up and stretching

warming up before workout

Warming up your muscles before working out is a crucial but often overlooked step that people take. You can warm your muscles up with a light jog, cycling, or dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves moving through a range of motion, which increases blood flow and reduces the risk of injury.
Stretching after a workout is also important as it helps your muscles recover and reduces soreness. Some common stretching techniques include quad, hamstring, and calf stretches. Below are some tips on stretching before, during and after a workout.

Stretching before a workout

Stretching before a workout helps your body prepare for physical activity. As stretching increases the blood flow to your muscles, it will help reduce the risk of injury during a workout. Stretching is also great for expanding your range of motion and flexibility, which means the exercises will be performed with proper form and technique.

Stretches to do before a workout

  • Arm Circles
  • Leg Swings
  • High knees
  • Lunges
  • Squat jumps
  • Hip circles

Stretching during a workout

A great way to avoid muscle fatigue and prevent cramping is stretching during a workout. Taking short breaks between exercises to stretch helps the blood flow to your muscles easier and can improve their function, which reduces the risk of injury. It also has the added benefit of improving your overall performance and endurance during a workout.

Stretches to do during a workout

  • Shoulder stretches
  • Hip flexor stretches
  • Hamstring stretches
  • Quad stretches
  • Calf stretches
  • Back stretches

Stretching after a workout

As mentioned above, stretching after a workout promotes muscle recovery and prevents soreness. It helps to reduce the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles, which is a primary contributor to post-workout soreness. Stretching after your workout also improves your range of motion, reducing the risk of injury in future workouts.

Stretches to do after a workout

  • Tricep Stretch
  • Chest stretch
  • Seated forward fold
  • Butterfly stretch
  • Downward dog

Proper form and technique

proper form and technique

Using proper form and technique during a workout is crucial if you want to prevent a common gym injury. Common mistakes include:

Using too heavy a weight

Lifting a weight that is too heavy for your strength and fitness levels can put excessive stress on your muscles, joints, and bones, which can, in turn, lead to strains, sprains, and even in some cases, fractures.

It also means that you may have to compromise your form and technique as you have to adjust for a heavier weight which reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. It is reduced as you cannot complete the full range of motion for the exercise you are attempting. This means your muscles may not be able to properly contract and relax, which limits the benefits of the exercise. Finally, it can slow down the number of repetitions and sets you can do, which slows down your progress.

How to avoid this:

To avoid any of the strain, a heavy weight might give you, simply start lighter and make your way to heavier weight gradually.

Lifting with your back instead of your legs

Lifting with your back instead of your legs can be dangerous and leave to injuries such as strains on the back muscles. It also increases the risk of disc herniation which are the discs around your spine. The pressure on your back causes the discs to herniate or slip out of place, which can be quite painful and require medical attention.
Another issue lifting with your back instead of your legs brings such a bad posture as your upper body may hunch forward to compensate for the weight. Over time this will lead to poor posture and discomfort.
The final issue with lifting your back is that it increases the risk of spinal cord injuries. Lifting with your back puts pressure on the spinal cord, which can result in serious injuries.

How to avoid

It is best to learn how to perform each exercise correctly so that you use the proper form and technique. You can ask a personal trainer for tips or even attend a workout class that will help you learn the correct positions.

Arching your back during exercises

Arching your back during a workout can strain the muscles of your lower and upper back. By adding this pressure to your back, you’re at a higher risk of your disc herniating or slipping out of place. It also leads to poor posture and alignment since your body will have to compensate for the arch in your back.

How to avoid

To avoid this, you will need to maintain proper posture during your workouts; this means keeping your back straight and core engaged. If you are not sure how to maintain proper form, consider working with a personal trainer who can guide you through exercises and help you avoid injury.
It’s important to start with a lighter weight and gradually increase as your fitness levels improve. There’s no need to start with the heaviest.

Gradual progression

gradual progression

The key to avoiding injury is gradually making progress in your workouts. A good example to keep in mind is when you are training for a marathon. No one can just run a full marathon without gradually increasing their kilometres through training. The same is true for any other workout. Start your training off the light and gradually increase the intensity; otherwise, you will be open to injuries such as strains, sprains, or even fractures.

These injuries can also happen from overtraining. Below are some of the signs of overtraining you need to look out for.

Persistent soreness

If you constantly feel sore no matter how much or little you train, this could be a sign of overtraining. While being sore after a workout is beneficial because it tells you your muscles were working out properly, you need to rest and recover properly. Otherwise, it will damage your muscles.

Lack of progress

Another sign of overtraining is if you find your progress begins to plateau. Of course, when working out, there will be times when you don’t see major progress but if it is constant, you will find that you may be overtraining and now allowing your muscles to recover.

Fatigue

Again, feeling tired after a workout is completely normal, but constant fatigue means your body is not getting enough recovery time between workouts. Rest and recovery are the most important if you want to avoid common injuries in the gym.

Rest and recovery

As mentioned above, rest and recovery are just as important in preventing injuries as proper form and gradual progression. Resting allows your muscles to recover and repair, which can reduce the risk of overuse injuries. How much you need between each workout depends on your fitness level and the workout intensity, but a general rule of thumb is to take at least one rest day per week.
There is also the option for active recovery, such as yoga and swimming, that can help speed up your recovery.

Proper nutrition and hydration

proper nutrition

Proper nutrition and hydration play a vital role in injury prevention. It’s essential to fuel your body with the right nutrients and stay hydrated during workouts. Eating a balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats can provide your body with the energy needed to perform at its best (Find great meals in our recipe section!). Drinking enough water before, during, and after your workout can also prevent dehydration and reduce the risk of cramping.

Final Thoughts

Injuries can be a setback when in your fitness journey, but they can be avoided with proper precautions. By incorporating warm-ups and stretching exercises along with focusing on proper form and technique, you can prevent common injuries seen in the gym. Be sure to gradually up your intensity, eating and hydrating along with taking the recommended rest days so that you can achieve your fitness goals without the risk of an injury.

GymPlus Team

March 20, 2023

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