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The Most Common Gym Injuries……and how they can be prevented!

People have a whole range of fitness goals – lose weight, gain muscle, raise stamina, improve strength – but getting injured is never usually one!

There are two main causes of workout-related injuries…

The first of these is poor posture during the day, which over time weakens your body structure. In order to address this you want to be making sure your computer screen is positioned in a way that you’re not straining or hunching to see it. You want a good office chair and to take regular screen breaks.

The second cause is trying to do too much too fast, in both reps and weight. You’re not going to lose those 20kgs of body fat with one beast of cardio session. Likewise you’re not going to build bulging biceps with one Schwarzenegger style weights workout! Consistency, correct technique and a tailored plan are what are going to get you the results you want.

Below are the most common body parts prone to injury at the gym, and how they can be prevented:

1) THE KNEE.

Often during our working day we want use our hip muscles very much. We then go and do a workout, cardio session or a fitness class. Weak hip muscles combined with other factors such as improper footwear and no warm up can result in our knee taking the brunt of the stress! These won’t be rectified by loads leg extensions and leg presses as they don’t strengthen the muscles of the feet and hips.

HOW TO PREVENT:

Add lunges to your exercise routine. During the action of a lunge your hip and ankle are bending together – this strengthening and adding stability to the knee. To gain even more benefit and strength the hips further complete lunges both forwards, backwards and side to side

2) THE ANKLE AND FOOT:

Again, when we spend our working day in front of a screen our shoulders become rounded and slump forward. On standing up your weight often falls to the front of your foot. When you then train your feet and ankles bear a lot of impact.

HOW TO PREVENT:

Purchase a trainer or running shoe that doesn’t have high in the heel. By helping spread the impact to the whole foot, you’ll prevent problems like achilles tendonitis, compression in the front of the ankle and side of the ankle. You’ll also reduce the risk of bunions and other foot pain.

3) THE BACK ( particularly lower):

Again, your back has a rough end of the bargain in most work days! If you work at a compute and your back is rounded throughout the day it can lead to problems. You then get to the gym and do, for example, a standing shoulder lift. As a result of your rounded upper back you straighten and arch upward from your lower back as it’s getting the majority of stress.

HOW TO PREVENT:

Always stretch and strengthen your upper back to counter the hunching you do at your desk. Really focus on stretches that lengthen your back muscles and exercises that see the shoulder blades pulled together. Also, where ever possible exercise standing up if you are sat down in your job all day! Standing exercises helps you engage bigger muscles in your body.

4) THE NECK:

Yet again, if you sit with rounded shoulders, your neck follows your upper back, but then your eyes need to see the screen. As a result you arch your neck and the pain comes! Then at the gym that poor posture stays with you. For example, you’re doing bench press but your back isn’t flat against the bench! A lack of mobility in your upper back will put stress on your lower back and also your neck!

HOW TO PREVENT:

Again, strengthen your mid and upper back, thus improving posture. This can be done by adding reverse shrugs to your routine.

5) THE SHOULDERS:

When typing at a computer your arms have to internally rotate which puts pressure on the shoulders. Then at the gym you throw in shoulder press, press-ups and flys which all also rotate the arms. This is where injury to the rotator cuff often occurs.

HOW TO PREVENT:

A great way to balance this is by rowing with cables. Take the cables in front of you and pull the arms back, rotating your palms away from you and behind you.

One thing you’ve probably noted is that the risk of injury to those with a desk job is higher when they are at the gym than those with a manual job. Therefore if you work in front of a computer all day you need to be mindful of the effects this is having.

In addition to the above please remember to apply the following general rules to reduce the likeliness of injury:

– Warm up correctly: light cardio followed by stretches (ideally dynamic)
– Cool down with stretches (ideally static)
Keep hydrated
– Take rest days
– Wear the correct clothing and footwear
– If a muscle injury does occur apply the RICE principle of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
– For major injuries or concerns always see your GP!

Ian David Worthington
Creator, Owner and Coach at GymWolfPT.com

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