Keeping fit is essential. But, in the eagerness to achieve exercise goals, some people end up with sprained ankles, damaged knees or injured wrists instead. The good news is you can avoid them entirely.
Here are the five most common workout injuries around:
Pulling a muscle while working out has got to be the most common injury you’ve heard of, right? A pulled or strained muscle is a common result of overexerting or doing sharp movements without the correct body movement. It could happen in any situation: lifting heavy weights or just stretching. You can pull a muscle if you're not doing it properly. The muscle fibres or the tendons and blood vessels around it end up getting torn. The area ends up bruised and painful.
According to NHS, other symptoms of muscle strain include swelling, pain at rest, pain when you use the muscle or joint weakness of the muscle, and the inability to use to muscle at all.
Your ankles, along with your feet, bear the brunt of your body weight. This means they encounter more stress and are more susceptible to injury. In fact, out of the hundreds of joints in the human body, the ankle is most often sprained. An ankle sprain is when you tear the ligaments connecting the ankle joints together. Not really a fracture, but it hurts either way. Sprains commonly occur when you move the ankle beyond its normal range, something as simple as a misstep during a running machine exercise or slipping while on an outdoor run can cause a sprain. Its symptoms include swelling, bruising, pain and inability to bear weight on the injured ankle.
If the ankle is the most injured joint, your shoulder takes the cake for being the most mobile. This means a wider range of motion, and a higher chance of getting busted. There are a lot of shoulder injuries related to working out. Most of them involve muscle and ligament tears and in really extreme cases, shoulder dislocations. One common injury is SLAP (Superior Labral from Anterior to Posterior) tear. It is prevalent in athletes involved in overhead sports like tennis, where they can have the ring of their shoulder cartilage torn. Signs and symptoms include pain, swelling and decreased mobility.
Your knee is the largest joint in your body and is responsible for most of the mobility on your lower limbs. Common workout injuries involving the knees include jumper’s knee and runner’s knee. These injuries obviously come from excessive movement and over-exertion. Symptoms include inflammation and joint pain.
While runner’s knee mostly occurs with distance runners, this can also happen to people who cycle, and those who flex their knees a lot. Poor form and gear could also lead to runner’s knee.
In contrast, jumper’s knee is common to people who often do jumps and affects the kneecap. Obesity and prior injury can also make people more susceptible to jumper’s knee.
Wrist injuries are common for people who work out with weights and usually stem from bad form. Like your ankle, it’s very easy to bust the ligaments surrounding your wrist. According to the NHS, repetitive movements from weight training and exercise can also lead to wrist problems like carpal tunnel syndrome. You can practice these simple exercises to prevent wrist injuries.
HOW TO PREVENT WORKOUT INJURIES
Now that you know what the common injuries are, here’s how you can avoid them:
BE PHYSICALLY PREPARED
Working out is a strenuous physical activity so it would make sense that you prepare your body before putting it to stress. Warm ups are important in any exercise--- they gear your body up by increasing heart rate, circulation, and breathing. You need to be careful though as some stretching practices may do more harm than good. It’s important to make sure you’re doing your warm-ups right. One of the best ways to avoid injuries is General Physical Preparedness training - focusing on areas like flexibility, strength, agility, balance, and power.
PROPER FORM, TECHNIQUE AND BODY MECHANICS
Something as simple as the right posture and proper body mechanics can help prevent workout injuries. When you know how your body works, you’ll know how to safely workout by maximizing your range of motion. Common body mechanics include bending with your knees rather than with your waist and keeping your feet apart for a wider range of support. This can be applied in and out of the gym. When at the gym, you can get some help from a gym trainer who’ll assist you in using gym equipment safely and effectively with the right technique.
USE THE PROPER GEAR
The right gear can mean the difference between an injured body and a healthy and fit one. It’s important for example that you choose the right shoes that offer support to your arches and ankles and wear the right workout clothes. Keep in mind that your gear should keep you cool and comfortable. When you’re working out in preparation for contact sports you also have to use the proper protective gear like shin pads and boxing gloves to keep you from hurting yourself or others.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Always know your limits. “No pain, no gain” may be your personal motto but you have to remember that pain is also your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, and you need to stop. When something hurts and feels off, don’t force your body to exert.
If you have a physical condition like arthritis, know what exercises work and don’t work for you. If you’re prone to osteoporosis, you might wanna do exercises that would increase bone mass and density without putting much stress on your spine.
Your diet obviously affects your performance. It’s never wise to workout on an empty stomach so eat food that would help fuel your body. Prevent muscle cramps by eating food high in potassium like bananas and celery. Help build muscle mass by eating food high in protein. Most importantly, keep hydrated. Working out can make you lose fluids and electrolytes that might lead to dehydration, so always keep your water bottle in sight.