Blisters 3 min read

How to avoid injuries in the gym

How to avoid injuries in the gym How to avoid injuries in the gym How to avoid injuries in the gym

There is no shortage of ways that you could injure yourself in the gym, from the incorrect use of equipment to not properly warming up and everything in between.

Some injuries are simply accidents that can’t be avoided, but you can rule out the majority of potential injuries just by preparing properly and protecting yourself. So here are some common mistakes that are made when using the gym and how you can steer clear of them – alongside the pain, inconvenience and danger of doing yourself a mischief.

Skipping your warm-up

It’s always a good idea to start your gym session with some low-intensity, fast-paced exercise to increase the blood flowing to your muscles, bring up their temperature and help boost their flexibility.

That rise in temperature is why it’s called ‘warming up’, and it makes you much more limber than if your muscles are cold and stiff. Step-climbing, swimming, jogging or riding an exercise bike are all great examples of effective warming up.

Skipping your stretches

After warming up, you should ideally perform a series of stretches to help further relax and loosen up your muscles. Once you have done this your body will be optimally primed for your workout, and far more protected from injury than if you hadn’t done a warm-up and stretches.

It can also be a good idea to stretch between different exercises in your workout (particularly if weight training) as this can aid muscle growth by increasing circulation. You can also prevent much of the soreness that usually occurs the day after a gym session by performing stretches designed to address the specific muscles you’ve used at the end of your workout.

Misuse of equipment

Whether it’s the treadmill, the rowing machine or weights, there is only one right way to use all of the equipment in your gym – and most gym injuries can be chalked up to using the equipment incorrectly. We’ve all seen videos of people flying off out-of-control treadmills – don’t let that be you.

There’s no excuse; most gyms have instructions for how to use the equipment displayed nearby – how to adjust the seat height, the weights (if applicable) and how to correctly position your body. This last part is particularly important because your body is only designed to move in certain ways – especially if you’re placing your arms and legs under strain. So it’s very easy to damage your muscles or connective tissue if you’re twisting, turning or contorting while pushing weights, for example. If in doubt, ask a member of staff for help.

Pushing yourself too hard

It can be tempting to try and take your exercise regime to the next level before you’re ready, thinking that pushing yourself harder will lead to quicker, better results. In fact, the opposite is true.

Doing more exercise than your body is ready for – whether that be running, rowing or weights – is a great way to considerably increase your chances of injury or strain. Pushing yourself to exhaustion makes it more likely that you will lose control of your body during any exercise or while using any piece of equipment. Setting too high a weight on a machine puts you at risk of being unable to control the load on its downward trajectory.

This is why programmes like ‘Couch to 5K’, for example, ensure that you slowly increase the amount of exercise you’re doing – so that you gradually build up the strength and conditioning to do more without hurting yourself.

Not giving yourself rest days

As well as being careful not to overload yourself while you’re exercising, you also need to make sure that you’re not training too often either. Your body needs recovery time between gym sessions, to regain energy and allow time for your muscles to heal and grow.

Training too often drains your energy, and prevents your body from reaching the levels of strength and conditioning you need to progress properly – as well as putting you in a position where you’ll be weaker during exercise, thereby increasing the risk of injury. A good rule of thumb is to stick to three or four hour-long sessions per week, with a day’s rest after each.

Not getting enough nutrition

Nutrition is your body’s fuel, and if you under-fuel, you’re again placing yourself in a weakened state that leaves you at risk of injury. You need a good balance of carbohydrates and protein in order to build up the energy you need for a gym session – and it’s usually a good idea to fuel up on some high-energy snacks before you start your session as well.

Being distracted

Focus is a very important component of your exercise session. If you’re not paying attention or are thinking about something else, you’re putting yourself in a situation where it is more likely that something will go wrong and you’ll injure yourself. Any athlete knows the value of concentration – whether that be in the use of their equipment, the execution of perfect form, or simply being aware of their surroundings.

As an extension of this, those who progress to advanced levels of weight training will need to consider who they use as a spotter – and that needs to be someone who is extremely attentive, very strong and always prepared to intervene in an instant.

Avoid & Treat Blisters

Any repetitive movements during your gym sessions – be it running, lifting weights or rowing – will create friction that may lead to blisters. Yes, blisters may fall at the more minor end of the injury scale, but that doesn’t make them any less painful, annoying or restrictive, especially if you’re on a strict training regime.

There are a number of things that you can do to prevent blisters from developing: for running, wear socks that fit your feet well; for weight-lifting, wear workout gloves; for all exercises, keep a towel on hand so that you can wipe down any friction-inducing moisture that builds up.

Nevertheless, you may find that despite your efforts, you still end up with the niggling, inhibitive pain of a blister – and when that happens, you’ll be glad you haven’t forgotten your Compeed blister plaster.