4 Most Common Workout Injuries
Workout injuries are nothing but a nuisance. They cause you a ton of pain, leave the injured body part feeling weak and stiff, and worse of all, end up setting you back weeks and sometimes months from your fitness goals.
What’s even more unfortunate is that workout related injuries are quite common with statistics showing that the rate of gym injuries have increased by up to 35% in recent years.
For the most part, injury possibilities greatly depend on the kind of exercises you engage in. However, there are a few workout injuries that are common among fitness enthusiasts of all types. Below is a brief look at some of the most common workout injuries as well as a few pointers on how to avoid them.
1) Ankle Sprain
At the top of the list of the most common workout injuries is an ankle sprain. It mostly affects people who hit the treadmill regularly, cycle for fitness, or go for outdoor runs. You also run a higher risk of spraining your ankle if you regularly engage in leg exercises such as rope jumping and squats.
The best defense against an ankle sprain is engaging in ankle-strengthening routines on a regular basis. The stronger your ankles are, the less likely they are to get injured.
2) Back Strain
Every person who exercises regularly has at one time or another suffered from a back injury. Whether in the form of strained muscles, or herniated disc, back injuries often start outside the gym where sitting all day for those who spend most of their work hours hunched in front of a computer. Poor posture puts a strain on the back. Add a tough workout or poor technique to the mix and an already strained back suffers even more stress, resulting in injury.
Avoiding back injuries all comes down to strengthening the back and minimizing the amount of strain towards this body part. Doing a couple of light back stretching and strengthening exercises before your workout routines will undo the effects of prolonged poor postures while ensuring proper form in all your workouts prevents the placing of undue stress on the back.
3) Shoulder Injury
The fact that the shoulder has a large range of motion puts it at an increased risk of being injured. This ability of the shoulders to move in all planes of motion sees them used in a variety of exercises ranging from weightlifting, to pull ups, to tricep dips, to even routines as simple as pushups. This repetitive use of the shoulders leaves the muscles in that area exhausted and vulnerable to a number of injuries including massive muscle tears, inflamed tendons, separated shoulder, among others. Things become even worse if you are exercising too hard or taking on the wrong form during routines.
When it comes to protecting your shoulders from injury, a few precautionary steps is all it takes. Maintain a good posture at all times whether in or out of the gym, work on strengthening your rotator cuff muscles, and avoid using weights that are too heavy.
4) Knee Pain
Patellar tendonitis or pain in the cartilage below the kneecap is a common complaint among regular exercisers. Commonly referred to as runner’s knee, this workout injury is usually caused by wrong foot placement and improper body positioning when performing exercises that are tough on the knees (e.g. squats, jumping, and running). Stiff hips are also a contributory factor to knee pain. Stiff hips are unable to properly support leg movements and therefore put more pressure on the knees. So, loosening hip flexors with hip-centric warm-up movements such as a plank routine and maintaining proper form during workouts can help reduce the risk of developing knee pain.
While workout injuries can strike at any time, the good news is that there are some little things you can do to prevent them. Start with the few tips discussed above and you will be able to greatly reduce your risk of injury.
5 Tips for Preventing Workout Injuries
Eager to improve your overall health, you jump feet first into your workout plan. Soon, results start trickling in further fueling your motivation and before you know it, you find yourself exercising harder than you have ever done. Then the next thing you know your shoulder buckles under the weight of the bar, a hot spot develops in your knee making it difficult to cover the miles you usually do, or a sharp pain shoots through your back with each workout rep you do. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, many people get into a fitness plan highly motivated only to be stopped in their tracks by a workout injury. While some workout injuries are unavoidable, most of them can be prevented. All you require is to exercise a little smarter. Here are a few workout tips that will help you enjoy an injury-free fitness journey.
1) Maintain Proper Form
Nothing increases your risk to workout injuries more than improper form when exercising. Poor exercise form can put undue pressure to certain muscles, increase chances of you dropping workout tools on yourself, result in awkward injury-triggering movements, or even weaken your entire musculoskeletal structure. A certified fitness trainer offers you the best bet of ensuring proper form in all your workouts. So, make sure the gym you sign up to has a fitness instructor available or invest in a few lessons from a professional trainer.
2) Make Sure to Warm Up
Although often overlooked, a good warm up is actually a great tool against workout injuries. The low intensity of warm up exercises slowly increases blood flow to working muscles thereby putting them in a better position to handle the stress they are about to be subjected to with the actual workout. All it takes is 5 to 10 minutes of a light activity such as slow jogging or stretching to improve muscle performance and therefore minimize risk of painful muscle tears or tearing of ligaments. So, make sure to always warm even when pressed for time.
3) Exercise within Your Limits
While it is true that the more intense your workouts, the greater the results, pushing yourself too hard often results in injury. So, while you may be willing to spend hours on the treadmill or stack up two times your weight on the barbell, your body is probably not ready to handle that much stress. Therefore, make it a point to know and stay within your physical limitations when exercising. Muscle soreness that lasts for days on end, pain or physical discomfort during reps, and utter exhaustion after workouts, are all signs you are overtraining and need to back off.
4) Change Up Your Workouts
Engaging in the same exercises during your workout sessions can set you up for a workout injury. By repeating the same workouts over and over, the involved muscles get overworked and therefore more prone to suffer from an overuse injury. To avoid this problem, it is essential that your mix up your workouts. Perform pull-ups during one session, run on a treadmill during the next, and lift weights during another. Varying workouts gives the previously used muscle groups enough time to rest and recover before being subjected to more stress.
Aside from changing up your workouts, you should also set aside enough time in your workout schedule to rest and give muscles enough time to recover completely. 24 hours of rest in between workouts should be adequate enough to trigger full muscle recovery.
5) Stay Hydrated
Water lubricates muscles and joints thereby protecting them against any jarring movements you may engage in during your workouts. Therefore, drinking water before and during your workout can go a long way in protecting you against workout injuries.
As you can see, a little strategic prevention is all it takes to enjoy a successful and safe fitness journey. So put these tips into action to avoid having your fitness plans being sidelined by an injury.