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How to Avoid Common Gym Injuries

How to avoid common gym injuries
Image by Taco Fleur from Pixabay
Kent Probst, BS, MEd
Kent Probst is the owner of Long Healthy Life Blog

Types of Common Gym Injuries

Learning how to avoid common gym injuries will help avoid setbacks with regard to your fitness regimen, allowing you to make progress faster. There are several types of common gym injuries you’ll want to avoid.

Fractures

Fractures can be the result of the following:

  • High impact repetitive exercise 
  • Incorrect training progression 
  • Low bone mineral density (BMD)

 

Females at risk for the “female athlete triad” (disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis) may want to see their health care provider before starting or continuing an exercise program. 

Males involved in sports, such as long distance running, can also be at risk for low BMD, hormonal deficiencies, and improper energy consumption. Pain and tenderness over a bone indicate that medical follow-up is needed.

 

Strains

Strains occur when there’s an injury involving the muscle-tendon unit (MTU). The injury can range from a few torn fibers (first degree) to a complete tear, or rupture (third degree).

When a severe strain occurs, imaging (MRI or x-ray) may be necessary to determine the degree of damage. 

Females are at a higher risk of strains than males, especially the anterior cruciate ligament. This is due to strength, landing biomechanics, and the menstrual cycle. 

 

Sprains

Injuries to ligaments that connect bone to bone can occur when there’s a traumatic event. Sprains are graded from a few torn ligament fibers (first degree) to a rupture (third degree) or all fibers torn. 

The ankle is a common site where sprains occur when the joint is twisted into inversion (the bottom of the foot is pushed inward).  Assessments of the injury should be done by a trained professional.

 

Contusions

Direct impact to a muscle can cause a contusion, resulting in inflammation and swelling. Contusions are graded from first degree in which there’s superficial damage to third degree which involves severe tissue damage.


 

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries happen as a result of repeated microtraumas to the MTU over a period of weeks or months. Examples of some of the most common overuse injuries are listed below.

Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon from repeated microtraumas or stress. Acute inflammation involving a tendon is tendinitis. Degeneration of a tendon without inflammation is known as tendinosis. Biceps tendinitis and achilles tendinitis are two common forms of tendinopathy. 

Bicep tendinitis where the biceps tendon connects to the shoulder becomes inflamed and painful around the front of the shoulder, often as a result of repetitive bench pressing in the gym.

Achilles Tendinitis above the ankle can occur from overuse from excessive plantar flexion, or calf presses in the gym. 

Bursitis is the inflammation of the fluid-filled sac known as the bursa near a joint. The bursa functions to lessen friction between joints, muscles, and tendons. Elbows, knees, hips, and shoulders are joints where bursitis frequently occurs. 

Swelling, pain, and tenderness are symptoms of bursitis where the bursa is located. Overuse of the preacher curl in the gym is a possible cause of elbow bursitis. 

 

Plantar Fasciitis

Inflammation of the plantar fascia around the (heel) medial calcaneal tubercle can occur from overuse or repeated trauma. Pain and tightness is more noticeable after periods of rest, especially upon waking up in the morning. 

 

Low Back Pain

Low back pain can be caused by a number of factors, including: disc compression, arthritis, bone disease, muscle imbalances, and muscle strain. 80% of cases of low back pain in adults get resolved in 4-6 weeks. 

 

What to do if You’re Injured (PRICE)

  • Protect the injured area
  • Rest, or restrict movement of injury
  • Ice the injury for twenty minutes at a time
  • Compression can be applied to the injury
  • Elevate the injured body part

 

The initial phase of inflammation lasts 2-3 days, sometimes longer. Repair of the injury begins about 3-5 days after the injury. Lastly, the remodeling phase can last 2-4 months, depending on the severity of the injury. 

Seek medical assistance if the injury is not improving, or if it’s a severe injury. 


 

Preventing Common Gym Injuries

Warm up 5-7 minutes prior to your workout to help prevent common gym injuries. Your warm up should consist of large muscle groups, and include activities such as cycling, walking, rowing, or jogging. 

Periodization can help with injury prevention by creating variation in the design of your workout. By varying the intensity, exercises, sets, repetitions, and rest periods you can reduce the risk of “overuse” injuries and optimize long term progress. 

Use Proper Form If you’ve worked with a personal trainer or fitness coach, they’ve probably told you to keep your abdominal muscles tight to stabilize your core and protect your back.

When lifting, keep the weight close to your body. Avoid taking a narrow stance for better stability.

Lift with the legs, bending the knees instead of the back. Pivot, turning your whole body, instead of twisting your back.  

Avoid certain exercises. The following resistance exercises are high risk and put your joints into vulnerable positions, increasing the risk of injury.

  • Supine Dumbbell Fly 
  • Upright Row 
  • Standing or Seated Overhead Tricep Extension with Free Weights (increased risk of shoulder dislocation)
  • Behind the Head Shoulder (Military) Press 
  • Behind the Head Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 
  • Good Mornings
  • Leg Extensions

 

Physical Therapist Jeff Cavaliere Details His Top 5 Worst Exercises

 

If you’re experiencing pain, that’s a warning sign that you need to stop what you’re doing. Continuing to exercise through the pain may cause an injury. 

 

References

ACSM’s Resources for the Exercise Physiologist, 3rd Edition

 


Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

 

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Hi, I'm Kent

As a personal trainer, kinesiotherapist and bodybuilder, I’ve dedicated my life to optimal nutrition, fitness and natural remedies. And putting it all into practice. Now I’m taking my experience and knowledge to the next level by helping others through blogging.

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