Hey Angels, it’s Ally!
When was the last time you experienced a workout injury?
I’m asking you this because injuries happen when we least expect them – and today, I’ll give you the ultimate preparation for them, by teaching you how to see them coming.
If you’re a regular gym-goer, you’re probably already aware of all the setbacks an injury can cause. What you might not be completely aware of is that in the society we live in today, media is bombarding us with information about fitness, and mantras that repeatedly reinforce the belief that we always need to push harder and reach beyond our limit.
Even though I support the belief of continuous struggle toward growth, but the continuous exposure to this “no pain, no gain” attitude has done nothing but hurt athletes in the long-run.
Today, we’re talking about workout injuries. I believe this is one of the most important topics a fitness enthusiast needs to learn about – if you want to guarantee yourself a long, healthy, and productive fitness journey, knowing how to avoid, prevent, and treat a workout injury is nothing short of a necessity.
Even small injuries like a sprained ankle or abnormal muscle strains, if ignored and not treated, have a higher chance of happening again and becoming a big problem in the long-run.
You’re going to learn about the most common injuries that occur in the gym, how to see them coming, and what you should (and shouldn’t) do to make sure you’re training safely and productively.
Let’s get started.
Here are the four most common gym injuries, and how to stay safe from each one!
1. Back Strains – according to statistics, this is the number one most likely injury for the regular gym-goer! The majority of people develop weak back muscles due to long hours of sitting at school, work, and home, and when the time comes to put heavy stress on the back, people tend to overextend and put on a load they can’t handle.
Even a sudden, sharp twinge in your lower back is a sufficient sign that you’re probably putting too much stress on it. Squats or deadlifts are two of the most common and basic exercises, yet they wreak havoc on your lower back if you’re not using proper form. Twisting motions, sideway bends, and heavy loads strain your lower back.
To stay safe, you need to learn how to maintain a neutral back. To do that, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your spine should touch the floor under your lower back, and this posture allows the natural curve of your back to absorb stressful exercise.
Especially if you’re new to weight lifting, get your form correct first. Beginners should first try the leg press or hip sled before moving on to squats. If you’re unsure of your form, ask a qualified personal trainer.
By lifting with your legs and not your back, you can gradually strengthen your back muscles with lower intensity exercise!
2. Shoulder Strains – your shoulder joints have a wide range of motion. This easily allows for injuries that are related to heavy loads, poor posture, and bad form.
Four main muscles – the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis comprise the rotator cuff, surrounding and stabilizing your shoulder joint.
Dislocating your shoulder or damaging your rotator cuff can be detrimental to your fitness journey. If at any point in your workout you feel shoulder pain – don’t push through it. If you feel pain when trying to reach behind you, this may be a sign of a strain of the rotator cuff. It typically results from repetitive overhead activity. Athletes like basketball players or swimmers should definitely stay away from heavy movements like military presses in the long-run.
To stay safe, let your shoulders rest and strengthen your rotator cuff muscles as part of your upper-body routine. By using good posture, avoiding heavy overhead exercises, and staying away from behind the neck lat pulldowns, you’ll put less stress on your shoulders and promote a balanced, gradual, productive growth process.
3. ACL/PCL & Knee Injuries – this refers to Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) – injuries especially common in women. These are injuries of the knee ligament and are also common in athletes that play any sports that involve jumping, rapid changes in direction, or intense running.
If you’ve ever experienced sudden knee pain, swelling, a feeling of looseness, or an inability to put any weight on your knee without pain, this is a situation that calls for medical attention. If ignored, it can take you off your feet for months, and even require surgery.
Pain related to running and putting on pressure on the knees is also known as “runner’s knee”. It occurs when the bones in the lower leg are not lined up correctly, which causes an abnormal tension between the kneecap and the thigh bone – causing pain and possibly even tears in the ligaments.
To keep your knees healthy, incorporate exercises that strengthen the quadriceps and hip flexors. Seated and lying leg raises, butterfly stretches, bridges and lunges can help strengthen your quads and hips, easing the tension you put on your knees.
4. Pectoral Injuries – if you’re one of the women who enjoy a heavy bench press now and then, pectoral injuries are something you should seriously consider. Losing control of a dumbbell or barbell at the wrong moment can lead to what feels like a tearing sensation, and the chest and upper arm often turn black and blue. If you experience a pec tear, you should immediately see an orthopedic surgeon to determine if the injury needs surgery.
Feeling stress in your pectorals when working out can be a sign that you need to give your chest muscles more rest.
To stay safe, make sure that the weight you put on your bar is not only one that you can lift, but one that you can control.
So far, we’ve looked at the most common types of injuries relating to weight lifting.
We’ve analyzed what they are, why they happen, and how to stay safe from their setbacks!
After taking a look at the specifics, I want to say a few words about the general idea of healthy, productive training.
Staying away from injuries is a critical factor to your fitness longevity, and if for example, you’ve had knee problems in the past, you at least know what to look for – you know where the risk is.
But if you’re trying to get the fundamental knowledge on how to stay safe from injury, here are my top four tips to not only avoid but prevent injury.
First, always start with a warm-up. The Harvard Special Health Report concluded that warming up your body pumps nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood to your muscles and speeds up your heart rate. Getting blood to the muscles helps them more amenable to stress and change, which will help you avoid workout injuries.
Second, put your focus on your weaker muscles. Adding strength training and core work to your routine will help you maintain a balanced development. If your muscles are adequately proportioned and your core is fit, your body won’t wear down or have to compensate for certain movements!
Third, eating a balanced diet and hydration. We can’t not mention this. What you eat and drink is crucial to your workout. Not only will the right carbohydrates give you energy, but they’ll replenish your glycogen stores and promote better recovery. Protein after a workout is just as important, helping you repair the muscles you just put stress on.
And finally… listen to your body.
To conclude, I want to summarize by saying this – the truth is your body will give you all the signals you need to back off at the right time.
If you see no progress in certain areas, if you feel like you have less control of the weight you’re working with, if your knee is feeling achy, if your shoulders feel a little loose, if your soreness lasts for more than the usual 24-48 hours, or if you’re just plain tired…
Then it’s time to realize that long-term progress is what you’re genuinely after and that it’s better to take a week or two off when you see the symptoms of an injury, as opposed to overtraining and trying to push forward as much as possible.
I believe the majority of workout injuries can be prevented with proper rest and recovery.
So that’s why I’m bringing your attention to this today…
If you have even the slightest feeling that your body is telling you to stop and back off for a bit, listen to it.
Because when it comes down to it…
Those periods of complete rest and recollection on your routine are when you truly grow and move forward in your fitness journey.
Don’t skip them in the name of the “no pain, no gain” attitude.
It’s not worth it.