Looking to get fit by going to the gym regularly? Not so fast! Before starting your exercise regime, allow me to educate you on some of the most common gym injuries that plague regular gym-goers of all fitness levels. Being aware of such injuries can make you catch any mistakes you might be making with your form presently that will lead to you getting hurt.
Here are some of the more common gym injuries
1) Ankle Sprain
Twisting your ankle by having your feet in awkward positions while running is not exclusive to running in the park, it is also possible to twist your ankle and sprain it by running on a treadmill. It is important to not think of running on a treadmill as a ‘mindless’ activity, and zone out whilst doing your exercises. Accidentally shifting one of your feet off the treadmill while the other is on it is a recipe for disaster.
The risk of injury is worsened when there is an incline on the treadmill. This increases the possibility of twisting your ankle by accident. Pay attention even when you’re in a seemingly ‘controlled environment’, on the treadmill in a gym, just as you would when you are running outdoors.
2) Shin Splint
This is an injury that is common among runners. This condition is an inflammation of the muscles near the knee, and is usually due to excessive stress from increased intensity of a new workout, or not taking time to ‘warm up’ to a workout after not exercising for a long time. It can also be due to not having proper footwear, resulting in additional strain on the aforementioned area.
This can be avoided by wearing proper running shoes, including a ‘warming up’ phase to your exercising regime(where intensity is decreased), especially if you are returning to exercising after being inactive for a long time. Doing stretches before you exercise also helps greatly.
3) Rotator Cuff Injury
A rotator cuff tear is anything but pleasant. A rotator cuff injury when there is overexertion of upper arm movements, such as doing a Lat Pull-down from the back. The rotator cuff is comprised of the muscles and their tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. If suddenly exposed to great forces that the muscles and tendons are not capable of supporting, they can tear, and would require weeks of rehabilitation for anyone to meaningfully use that muscle group again. Thus, it is highly recommended to take things slow – when doing exercises that work to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, be careful not to overexert them. When doing any weight work of any kind, always ensure you have a spotter present that is watching you. Having a spotter substantially reduces the risk of being injured.
4) Hairline Fractures
The condition that ended Yao Ming’s career, hairline fractures are more clandestine injuries that arise due to continual and repeated strain on a specific part of your body, such as your foot. If your foot is constantly exposed to strain, it might not properly heal, and cause constant pain in the affected area. An easy way to identify hairline fractures is pain when force is applied to an area, and swelling and inflammation of the area. Similar to the other injuries, hairline fractures can be avoided by easing into exercise regimes and not rushing into them – even if you think you are capable of withstanding the intensity. Remember, hairline fractures are subtle and not obvious, and often do not present themselves immediately, but rather over time. This makes it difficult to manage them, and thus it is better to err on the side of caution, to prevent them from arising entirely.
5) Bicep Tendon Tear
If you curl a weight that is heavy too suddenly, the tendon which connects your bicep to your bones, might snap. This is often followed by bruising and inflammation of the area, and your bicep might appear larger(this does not mean it is a good thing!). There is also marked pain, which you unfortunately will feel. In order to prevent such an injury from occurring, lift weights that you know you can handle (don’t be a show off!), and ensure you have a spotter that is watching you. Having a spotter present substantially reduces the chance of getting injured.
If you suspect you may have injured or are experiencing pain that won’t go away, seek a consultation from a sports doctor as soon as possible, before the injury turns chronic.