Whether it was a New Year promise to yourself or you are a regular exerciser, gyms are full with people in the early months of the new year, keen to work off the rest of the festive excesses and get in shape for the year ahead.
If you’re one of them, and you’re tempted to hit the gym hard to get fit quick, you need to read this.
It’s a sad fact that gym injuries are extremely common and if you’re unfortunate enough to get one, you could be out of action for weeks or even months. Avoiding injury is often simply a case of warming up properly and taking a few simple precautions.
Here are our tips to keep you safe, and avoid some of the more common gym injuries this year:
(1) Shin splints
Media tibial stress syndrome, or shin splints, is pain that runs along the inner edges of your shin bone. It is common in runners and is caused by muscles in the front lower leg becoming overstressed.
You are at risk of shin splints if you have recently increased the intensity of your training regime. To prevent it wear good quality running shoes and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Warm up properly.
(2) Rotator cuff injury
Repeated overhead movements, such as presses, can strain the rotator cuff, which is a group of four muscles that support the shoulder joint.
To prevent damage to the rotator cuff muscles, avoid using weights that are too heavy for repetitive overhead movements. Instead use weights that work these muscles without having to rely on the pectorals and deltoids.
(3) Runner’s knee
If you have discomfort around the kneecap, accompanied by a crunching or grating sound, you may have knee patellofemoral syndrome, or runner’s knee. This can occur if you are doing weighted repetitions without your knee being correctly aligned.
Using weights that are too heavy or doing too much can damage the knee, as can running down hill which increases stress on the patellar tendon. Strengthening hips help to prevent runner’s knee as the hips prevent the knee from tracking inwards. Also, keeping your knees in proper alignment during weightlifting will help prevent injury.
(4) Lower back pain
Lower back pain can lead to a herniated disk or nerve compression so it is important to protect your back during your exercise regime. Injury can occur when you are performing squats or deadlifts with too much weight or with incorrectly performed twisting motions or sideways bends.
Make sure you are correctly positioned before you perform a lift, with your spine in neutral. Build up weights gradually to avoid straining your spine.
(5) Sprained ankle
A sprained ankle can be very painful and may keep you off the treadmill for several weeks. Ankle sprains happen when the foot turns inward, causing the joint to flex too far. They can lead to torn ligaments on the outside of the ankle which may take a long time to heal.
To prevent them, make sure you warm up well and perform exercise to build ankle flexibility. Be careful when getting on and off the treadmill and if you are running outside keep an eye on uneven ground.
If you are in pain for more than a few days or if you suspect serious injury always seek medical advice as continuing to walk or exercise on a damaged joint may cause further damage and could lead to long-term problems.