Are you worried about hurting yourself at the gym? Don’t feel embarrassed — you’re not alone.
Especially for people who haven’t pursued physical fitness as a goal before, it can be nerve-wracking to look at all those dead-lifts and planks. But while it’s healthy to be cautious when trying a new workout, it’s not healthy or helpful to your goals to be intimidated. We want you to do your best, and doing so means avoiding injury without actually avoiding exercise.
So, what are the most common injuries that happen at the gym, and how can you avoid them?
The injuries that you might sustain depend on the types of exercises you do, and the intensity with which you do them. As this piece points out, working at a desk all day can make certain parts of the body very vulnerable to injury, like the lower back, the knees, and the neck. Man or woman, big or small, old or young, the joints are extremely vulnerable.
Runners in particular have to worry about injuring their knees. Knees are incredibly complex constructions, and the connections of cartilage between the kneecap, bones, and bands of muscle surrounding the joint can rub together if the knee itself is misaligned or you’re not exercising properly. The best way to avoid injury to the knees is to stretch them regularly, so that the connections between the different part of the knee can be flexible and lined up. The other thing to watch out for are your shoes — poor arch support can unbalance your joints and cause pain over time.
The lower back is also vulnerable to injury, especially if you have a desk job that weakens the muscles in the lumbar area and core. That means that it can spasm, or a disc can slip or a nerve can pinch. How do you prevent injury to the lower back? First, stretch your spine on a regular basis. Try some of our yoga classes; they will help build your core and stretch the muscles in your lower back. But if you’ve already injured your back, you need to ice the injury on a repeat basis. Use the anti-inflammatories that agree best with you, and also seek out a physiotherapist if the pain is persistent.
The neck is also a common site of injuries during workouts. Often, this happens because undue strain is placed on the neck during abdominal exercises. It’s easy to “lead with” the neck during a crunch, but it’s also the simplest way to hurt your neck and give yourself a serious headache. A good way to avoid leading with the neck is to imagine an orange wedged between your chin and your chest as you lift up from the floor. Or, if it’s hard to concentrate on that image, see if you can practice with a stress ball under your chin to help you maintain a neck extension as you focus on using your abdominal muscles to lift up.
Of course, the simplest way to avoid all of these injuries is to work with one of our qualified personal trainers and kinesiologists, who can help you learn the proper form for multiple exercises. Learning and maintaining this form is what will keep you free from injury, and working with a personal trainer will introduce you to the various vulnerable parts of your body in a safe and supportive way.