How to Avoid Common Gym Injuries
Every year thousands of gym-goers fall victim to common injuries that could be avoided with knowledge and preparation. These gym injuries throw your fitness routine off track, so you end up losing a lot of the benefits you've gained. But more importantly, some of them can lead to chronic pain down the road, and possibly, surgery. Use these precautions to avoid being one of the walking wounded.
LOWER BACK PAIN
This is one of the most common gym injuries, largely due to improper weightlifting technique and hoisting too much weight before you're capable of doing so. It's a common practice to wear weightlifting or back belts, which many believe protects the spine and back muscles during heavy lifting.
But, a few studies, including one conducted by the Mayo Clinic, show that back belts may not be the protectors they're hyped up to be. In fact, the study suggests that wearing these belts weaken back muscles and gives a false sense of security.
Prevent Lower Back Pain: To avoid this common gym injury learn the proper technique for lifting weights and abdominal crunches. Increase weight gradually. Also, work on developing core strength - including abdominal crunches and lower-back exercises. Use an exercise ball during these activities for extra back protection.
Another one of the most common gym injuries is shoulder impingement, also called rotator cuff impingement. The rotator cuff is that group of muscles and tendons that keep your arms in the shoulder joints and enables them to glide smoothly within the socket. When you overuse the rotator cuff- for instance when lifting weight or using weight machines--it may rub against the top part of the shoulder blade where it meets the collarbone, or the acromion.
Eventually, this constant contact can irritate the rotator cuff causing it to become inflamed and swollen, and trapping it inside the shoulder joint. Tendonitis and bursitis are part of this common gym injury.
Prevent Shoulder Impingements: To avoid these common gym injuries, do shoulder stretches to keep your rotator cuff muscles and tendons flexible. However, don't stretch cold muscles. Dynamic stretches such as swinging your arms overhead or in front of you will warm up muscles, then you can dig into static stretches.
Increase weight load gradually, and alternate the types of upper-body exercises you do each day so that the full set of muscles are getting a balanced workout. Apply ice after a workout to reduce inflammation.
ACL tears and other knee problems are some of the most common gym injuries and sports injuries around. They make up 50 percent of all sports-injury related medical visits, reports the American Academy of Sports Podiatry Medicine. Knee injuries include cartilage tears, ligament sprains, tendon strains and patellar-femoral syndrome.
These common gym injuries can result from a strength imbalance between the medial and lateral quadriceps muscles (VMO and VLO), quadriceps injuries, overuse of the joint, improper exercise technique, poor equipment, or bone stress. Some people may even have a bone or structural problem with the joint.
Prevent Knee Injuries: Stretch before, during and after your workout to keep muscles, ligaments and tendons flexible. Wear proper equipment, such as shoes for your type of foot pronation and with good stability. Some knee braces and straps help to prevent injury, but there are dozens on the market, so it's best to get advice from a physical therapist or sports medicine doctor.
Also, balance the exercises for your quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles so each muscle group is getting a workout. Use proper technique on gym equipment such as leg extension and leg press machines. And make knee-strengthening exercises such as squats, lunges and balancing a part of your daily routine. Apply ice after working out to ward off inflammation.
Journal: The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Vol. 17, Issue 3, pp. 498-502
Date: August 2003
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