The gym is an excellent place to get active. Most gyms offer equipment, weights, classes, and more for people of all fitness levels. There are countless benefits to working out, from burning fat and building strength to improving your mental health. However, the inherent nature of exercising does come with risks. If you are not careful, you can suffer serious injuries that put you on the shelf for months.
Whether you’ve been exercising for years or are just a fitness beginner, you should always take steps to keep yourself safe. Avoiding injuries is not hard, but it is vital to your fitness progress and your overall health. Unfortunately, injuries occur every year in gyms around the country. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there were roughly 468,000 injuries sustained while exercising (with or without equipment).
As you can see, injuries can happen to anyone. Fitness Nation wants all of our members to enjoy their gym experience. Part of that includes avoiding injuries. Today, we are going to be providing you with some useful tips to help you avoid injuries in the gym.
1.) Warm Up
When you first get to the gym, you shouldn’t just jump right into a workout. Not warming up is one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make, whether you’re a fitness expert or a beginner. Many people begin their workouts with minor stretches they learned in P.E. when they were younger or light jogging. However, these activities do little to prepare your muscles, joints, and nervous system for your workout.
Start your workout with some dynamic stretching. It will boost your range of motion and improve your flexibility prior to exercising. Dynamic stretching gets your body moving, engaging the entire body. These movements take your joints and muscles through their full range of motion, getting your blood pumping in the process.
Even if you are in great shape, your muscles and tendons will likely be tight before your workout, which increases your risk of injury. A proper warm-up loosens your body, allowing them to move more fluidly.
2.) Focus on Form
Form is arguably the most vital part of any exercise. While most gym newcomers are unfamiliar with how to do most workouts, there are plenty of fitness experts who still don’t prioritize form. They focus on lifting heavy, often sacrificing proper lifting form to do so. This form is key to a successful workout.
If you are not doing an exercise correctly, you won’t be engaging the right muscles during it. On top of that, proper form prevents you from suffering any severe injuries. If you are unfamiliar with a workout, start with light weight, then move up. Focus on form. Make sure you feel the correct muscle groups engaging.
If you aren’t sure about your form, don’t be afraid to reach out to a personal trainer. They will happily help you learn how to do exercises properly to help you build strength and avoid injuries.
3.) Schedule Routine Physicals
Before you begin any fitness program, visit your doctor first for a routine physical. During this physical, your doctor will review your medical history, exam your vitals, and much more. Your doctor will be able to determine whether you have any underlying health conditions or injuries that might make working out dangerous. If that is the case, they might provide you with some modifications to your routine to help you avoid injuries in the gym.
While exercising is an excellent way to stay in shape, it also puts added stress on your body, especially on your joints and cardiovascular system. Routinely visiting your primary care physician for a physical will help them monitor your body and determine if anything increases your risk for injury.
4.) Build Up Gradually
When people start new fitness programs, they are often eager to get started and see progress. They tend to jump into training with high intensity. However, especially for beginners, this intensity is not sustainable. You don’t need an intense workout for it to lead to progress.
Start with moderate workouts that give your body resistance but are still doable. As these exercises become easier, increase the intensity. Don’t just dive headfirst into high-intensity activities. Often, you won’t be able to keep up, which puts you in harm’s way. Take your time. Slowly build your strength and confidence in the gym, gradually increasing the intensity over time.
5.) Dress Properly
While it might not seem like a big deal, dressing for your workout plays a larger role than you might think. Many injuries occur because someone doesn’t have the right gear for the activity they are doing. For instance, when biking or cycling, bikers wear biking shorts that have extra padding to keep you comfortable and safe while riding.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a name brand. Workout clothes that fit you comfortably will be fine. Most workout gear is built to wick sweat and breathe easily, so you don’t overheat yourself.
Not owning a pair of comfortable yet sturdy shoes is one of the most common causes of injuries. Find a pair of shoes that offers good arch support and has a cushioned heel to absorb shock. If you plan on engaging in specialty workouts, look up the gear you might need to improve your exercise and avoid injuries.
6.) Stay Hydrated and Energized
What you put into your body plays a large role in your performance in the gym. Not only will the carbs from your diet give you the energy to make it through your workout, but they also give your body the nutrients it needs to recover faster. Consuming protein after exercising helps repair the muscles that just broke down. If you hit the gym on an empty stomach, you might feel weak and have low energy, which can lead to injuries.
Hydration is key to exercising, as well. As you exercise, your body loses a lot of water, which means it slowly dehydrates. Without water, your organs can’t function as they should. Additionally, around 79% of your muscles are water. Water keeps them lubricated and allows them to move easier. When you’re dehydrated, your muscles become stiff and have a reduced range of motion, which can end in injury.
7.) Listen to Your Body
Being sore is a natural part of working out. It’s a sign that you had a good workout. However, do not let it get to the point where you are in pain. Soreness is normal and goes away after a couple of days. However, if you feel pain past 24-48 hours, something might be wrong.
In some instances, you might have been overtraining your body. Your body will tell you when something is wrong, and you should never ignore these signs. It might be best to reduce the intensity of the workout or stop doing it entirely. Take the time to rest and recover. Rest days are an essential part of being active. They allow your body time to replenish your energy, letting your muscles heal and recover. Listening to your body and taking rest days helps you avoid injuries.
Unfortunately, injuries happen every day. Many gym members don’t take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe during a workout. While you might be eager to lift heavy or do an intense exercise, it can do more harm than good. If you get hurt, not only will you be out of the gym for an extended period, but you will also lose all the progress you gained. That is why Fitness Nation encourages our gym members to practice care and caution in the gym to avoid injuries.