Injury Prevention at the Gym

Injury Prevention at the Gym - Results Physiotherapy

Injury Prevention at the Gym

It's the perfect time to get in shape. Those who aren’t exercising outside in the sunshine are most likely working out in an exercise facility lifting weights, joining an exercise class, or utilizing gym machines. Exercise is important to lead a healthy lifestyle, but it’s also crucial to understand how to stay safe in an exercise facility, whether that’s dodging gym germs or avoiding gym injuries. Let’s take a look at the most common injuries and how to stay safe while getting healthy!

A Gym Workout Injury Study

An analysis of exercise-related injuries at gym facilities was conducted from 1999-2013, and these findings show that exercise facilities and equipment can potentially lead to serious injuries if not used properly. The results of this analysis concluded that 36.2 percent of the total 2,873 participants overexerted their muscles while exercising. Additionally, 52.6 percent of participants were injured while using free weights. A common factor in free weight injuries were falling weights which inevitably caused crush injuries. Lastly, injuries that took place in group exercise classes accounted for 35.9 percent of all injuries monitored in this study.

What Can Cause Injuries at the Gym

There are several factors that could lead to you potentially sustaining an injury while you're at the gym. Many of these are based on the ways in which you workout but the mindset you have before, during, and after a strenuous workout as well. We've identified some of the key ways that injuries can happen at the gym so you can be mindful while you're getting in your next training session.

Doing Too Much Too Fast

One of the key ways that an injury can occur at the gym is when you try to do too much too fast. Oftentimes we can watch these guides or videos on social media and think that we can do them just like the influencer. But in reality, if you're starting to workout for the first time in quite some time, you could be setting yourself up for an injury. Avoid trying to do too much at the gym before you're ready for it.

Not Using the Proper Equipment

The next thing that could potentially lead to an injury in the gym is when you fail to use the proper equipment. This includes the equipment you choose to wear at the gym, not just the machines or free weights. Make sure that when you're going to the gym you're knowledgeable about the proper equipment to wear, the proper way to use the equipment, and have consulates with a physical therapist, trainer, or other healthcare professional before beginning any exercise to ensure that you understand how to use the equipment.

Overuse and Not Recovering Properly

Another common pitfall that could lead to an injury at the gym is when you go overboard and injure yourself from doing too much too often. An essential component to staying safe at the gym is knowing where your limits are. If your body is trying to tell you that you need to slow down, you need to listen to it. One of the most common reasons for an injury at the gym is when you strain your muscles because you're overusing them and you're not giving your body enough time to rest and recover.

For instance, if you're lifting weights, it is safer to perform 4 sets of 10 reps with breaks in between than to do 40 repetitions in one sitting. Space out your workout and make sure that you're not setting yourself up for an injury by overuse.

Poor Form

The next thing that could potentially lead to you sustaining an injury while at the gym is using improper form. Improper form can be a recipe for disaster when you're at the gym, which is why it's beneficial to connect with a physical therapist or personal trainer to make sure that you understand how to properly use the equipment and you're using the equipment in a safe way based on your exercise capacity.

Our body is unique in that it can only push, pull, bend, rotate, and move in certain ways or directions. In this way, you don't want to be pushing your body past its inherent limits. In doing so, you could be setting yourself up for an injury, so make sure that you understand the proper techniques when performing certain exercises and are doing so with the proper weight or form.

Exercising Before a Warm Up and Stretch

The next most common way that an injury can occur at the gym is when you exercise before you've had enough time to safely warm up and do a pre-workout stretch.

When you're getting ready to begin a strenuous workout, you don't want to jump into them right away. Instead, you want to focus on easing your way into the workout and you can do this by doing a light warmup and then a pre-workout stretch before you begin your full exercise routine.

Most Common Gym Injuries

Some of the most common gym injuries that can occur at the gym include knee pain, shin splints, muscle strains, back pain, rotator cuff injuries, ankle injuries, and elbow pain.

The Most Common Injury-Causing Machine: The Treadmill

After a 2016 examination of workout-related hospital visits, it was discovered that one in three exercise-related hospital trips were running related. Out of this statistic, over 30 percent of people who visited the hospital from a workout-related running injury were running on the treadmill! Most of these running injuries included: stress fractures, runner’s knee, and shin splints.

Consumer Reports have cited that between 1997 and 2014, close to 5,000 were rushed to the hospital from a head injury from a treadmill. What is it about the treadmill that poses such a risk and how can we stay safe?

Here are a few tips when using a treadmill to stay safe!

  1. Stand on the sides of the treadmill when you turn on the machine
  2. Use the safety key! — This one is often overlooked and shouldn’t be. You clip the safety key onto your clothing so if you fall, the treadmill will immediately halt
  3. You need at least two feet on each side of the machine and six feet behind you to make sure you are not stuck between the machine and the wall if you do fall
  4. Keep your head up — We often lose balance if we are looking down
  5. Do not step off a moving treadmill

Running Injuries and Prevention

Running is a great way to burn calories, raise your heart rate and get your cardiovascular system pumping but unfortunately, running can come with many different types of injuries that can sideline runners with acute or chronic injuries.

Shin Splints

One of the most common running injuries is a medial tibial stress syndrome, most commonly known as a shin splint. A shin splint is due to overuse of the muscles which if left untreated, can grow into a stress or complete fracture. Things like running with unsupportive shoes, extensive running on hard ground, repetitive and continuous stress on the shin area, inflexibility, or a sudden increase in physical activity can all create shin splints. Shin splints can cause serious pain in the area so it’s important to rest and ice the area when recovering from an injury. In order to prevent this injury from occurring in the future, it’s recommended to invest in supportive shoes, avoid hard or uneven surfaces when running, stretch your muscles, strengthen your calf muscles, and do not drastically increase the frequency or intensity of your exercises too quickly.

Runner’s Knee

Another common running injury is an obvious one – runner’s knee. This injury is another overuse injury that creates pain in, around, and behind the knee cap. The factors that create shin splints are similar in a runner’s knee injury case as well, including unsupportive shoes and hard or uneven surfaces. Runner’s knee can also occur if the athlete is over-striding on the run and overextending the knee.

Each person and injury is different so it’s important to monitor your pain, rest and ice the affected area. If the pain continues or progresses for days forcing you to take a break from exercise, it may be helpful to contact a physical therapist near you to understand how your injury occurred and future prevention techniques.

Free Weights

Free weights are not to be taken lightly – 90 percent of all weight lifting injuries come from free weight use. Free weight injuries often come from: dropping weights, pinching yourself with weights, lifting too much weight, improper lifting technique, strains, and not properly secured weights.

The first precaution when using free weights is to make sure you are lifting in a place where you have space away from other people where there is no chance of you dropping a weight or hitting somebody with your weight. Also, before you lift heavy weights, check to make sure the pin is securely inserted into the weights to ensure the weight is locked into place. If you are looking to increase the weight you’re lifting, do so at a slow pace and make sure you have proper posture and techniques when doing so. There is a risk of strain and overexertion of your muscles if you attempt to lift more than you can handle. There is also a risk of further injury with incorrect alignment and lifting techniques.

How Can I Avoid an Injury at the Gym?

Now that you understand some of the most common hotspots for injuries at a gym, the next best thing is to figure out how you can reduce your injury at the gym. We've highlighted some key ways in which you can reduce the likelihood of sustaining an injury at the gym.

Read the directions on the machine!

This one may seem obvious, but if you do an exercise on a machine incorrectly, you are more likely to get hurt.

Listen to your body

Are you pushing yourself too hard to the point where you feel pain? If so, stop and reevaluate.

Ask a professional to demonstrate how to use the equipment

There is no shame in asking for help! Some props aren’t always self-explanatory, and it’s safer to ask for a quick demonstration rather than try it and get hurt.

Make sure to do an aerobic warm-up

You don’t want to shock your body by getting right into your workout without doing a few active stretches – even if it is just for five minutes. Active stretching prepares your cardiovascular system for the upcoming workout and ensures your muscles get proper blood and oxygen when in use.

Focus On Using the Proper Form

When you're talking with a professional to learn how to use a piece of equipment or perform a certain type of exercise, your focus and priority should be on making sure that you do each exercise with the proper form. To ensure that you do each exercise or lift with the proper form, don't be afraid to take it slow. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race and it will also help you reduce the likelihood of future injuries you sustain at the gym.

Use the Proper Equipment

As we've mentioned earlier, one essential method of making sure that you reduce the likelihood of an injury at the gym is to ensure that you're using the proper equipment. This means everything from the exercise equipment to the clothes or accessories you use during your workout, make sure that you're not only using them properly but that they're being used for their specific purpose.

Speak with a Healthcare Professional

Another thing you can do to reduce the potential for injury at the gym is to speak with a healthcare professional like a physical therapist or doctor. These healthcare professionals can help educate you on ways to perform certain exercises, the benefits you can gain while exercising at the gym, health considerations that you need to be aware of, and more. Make sure that you get clearance from healthcare professionals before beginning any kind of exercise or gym routine.

Start Slowly and Increase Gradually

Starting slow and increasing gradually throughout your workout session is an essential step to reduce the potential for injury at the gym. In addition to easing your way into your workout each time, you want to focus on easing into the frequency and intensity of the workouts you perform each week. As we've mentioned earlier, you want to listen to what your body is trying to tell you, so if it thinks you need a little bit more rest, then go ahead and take that extended rest.

Stretch Properly - Pre and Post-Workout

The next thing you can do to potentially reduce the likelihood for an injury at the gym is to make stretching a priority. For the best results, you should try to stretch both pre-workout and post-workout.

How Can I Recover From A Gym Injury?

One great way to heal from a gym-sustained injury is physical therapy. It’s important that if you know you are injured to not just “workout through the pain.” This is where serious injuries can occur. A physical therapist can help assess your injuries and your range of motion on your first visit. It’s crucial to have a professional examine your injured area and apply hands-on methods to understand the way the body is moving or not moving. From here, your therapist can make physical adjustments as well as create a personalized exercise plan for you to strengthen the muscles for future injury prevention.

A Physical Therapy Clinic Near You – Results Physiotherapy

If you’ve recently endured a workout-related injury or you’re still battling chronic pain from years prior, you can count on our friendly team at Results Physiotherapy to treat you with the highest-quality hands-on care. At Results, we use manual therapy in over 90 percent of our patients, and we’ve seen incredible results from this method. Our physical therapists can help stretch, massage and strengthen the muscles surrounding your injury to help you heal and prevent future injuries.

Schedule an appointment today with one of our physical therapists to get back to doing what you love.

A Testimonial from a Results Physiotherapy Patient

Nobody likes to battle with pain and with the help of a Results physical therapist, you don’t have to! 

"I came to PT with weak knees, unbalanced quads, and a fear that my running life was in trouble. I'm leaving PT feeling healed, stronger, and empowered to continue working towards a stronger, fitter, runner." - Jordan


For more information on how we treat running injuries, check out our video:

Posted by Ryan Bucci at 12:43 PM
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