January is traditionally the time when people start their annual health kick by hitting the gym in an attempt to recover from the excesses of Christmas, but for some, the gym can present some unexpected hazards.
A survey by The Compensation Experts has found that there’s no body part more susceptible to discomfort than your knees, with 17.3% of respondents reporting post-gym pain attributed to this area, followed by shoulders (11.5% ) and ankles (9.3% ).
The poll of 1,000 gym members also reveals the gym equipment that poses the most danger – due to people being unprepared for the weight load or intensity – is weights (25.4% ), treadmill (25.0% ) and exercise bike (17.1% ).
Top tips to avoid injury at the gym
While getting in shape is beneficial for our mental and physical health, it’s important to take the appropriate steps at the gym when trying out something new, to avoid unintentional injury. Senior Private Physiotherapist at Vita Health Group, Ann Kuan, gives her top tips below, to prevent injury at the gym and ease your way back to fitness.
Commit to a warm up
Before starting any type of exercise, it’s important to warm up with dynamic stretches. These are active movements that put your body through a range of motions, and accomplishes flexibility of the muscle groups you’ll be using. Benefits include far fewer injuries, as well as achieving greater power and a more efficient workout.
Progress at a steady pace
If you’re trying to increase the amount of exercise you do, whether to lose weight or build muscle, be sure to only raise the frequency and intensity at a steady pace that your body can handle. The key here is to gradually improve your volume over time, and don’t be afraid to drop back down.
Rank your pain level and modify
If you experience discomfort while exercising, take a moment to ask yourself how bad it is; can you still perform normal activities or is your everyday life being affected? It’s important to seek medical assistance immediately if your injury is impacting your daily routines, but, if pain is mild, consider trying a lower intensity workout for a while. Additionally, consider also using ice, heat, or relief balms to get the pain under control.
Avoid sitting for hours on end
No matter how fit and strong you are, back pain is common in even the most sedentary actions. For instance, working from the kitchen table, sofa, or even your bed, is far from beneficial for your posture. Even sitting at a desk for long periods of time can have negative consequences. The best ways to avoid back pain are to take advice on ergonomic set-up solutions and get up for multiple breaks throughout the day.
Don’t forget self-care
Among the most important tips to avoid gym-related injuries is to practice self-care! If you’re suffering from a little discomfort, worry and stress can exacerbate the pain. If you’re unsure as to the extent of any damage, it may be beneficial to visit a professional to seek clarification. Otherwise, following self-care habits like mindfulness and meditation can help to reduce anxiety and even alleviate physical pain.