6 Ways to Avoid Workout Injuries
How to get fit without getting hurt.
"The warm-up helps the muscles to handle stress so they are less likely to be injured," Plancher says. "And the pacing is just the common sense way to avoid injury."
So if, for example, you’re new to weight training, start with weights you can lift for 8-12 reps, and do no more than three sets. When that gets easy, increase the weight by just 2% at your next session.
"Overestimating your [strength] will lead to improper technique and recruitment of auxiliary muscles," Schroeder says. Translation: It means a higher risk of injury.
Plancher says this same moderation principal applies to almost every fitness activity: "Whatever you think you can do or think you should be doing, dial it down a notch. Almost everyone thinks they are in better shape than they are, which is how and why injuries occur."
6. Don’t Overdo It
While doing one exercise over and over will certainly help you perfect it, it can also set you up for a workout injury.
When you repeat the same muscle movements, Schroeder says, it leads to "overuse and repetitive use injuries, such as shin splints, tendinitis, and never-ending muscle soreness."
The way to avoid problems, he says, is to vary your workouts -- for example, running on a treadmill one day and lifting weights the next.
It's also important to give muscles adequate rest between workouts.
"It’s OK to work out every day as long as you’re not feeling the pain," Varlotta says. "But if you are [working out every day], remember that tired muscles are an invitation to injury. So give yourself adequate time to rest and recover."
Schroeder adds that the best way to keep a small injury from becoming a larger one is to rest the sore muscle. "It’s the best avenue to a speedy recovery," he says.
Workouts Made Safer
Here are some tips for avoiding injury while performing six types of common exercises.
Potential injuries: Knee and foot problems, including torn meniscus or cartilage injury.
How to avoid them: Wear good shoes; rest between sessions; don’t work through the pain; ice your knees.
2. Ski machines and air-walking devices (like the Gazelle)
Potential injuries: Hip, leg, lower back problems due to hyperextension; knee injuries due to locked in position.
How to avoid them: Don’t pull your legs apart farther than you would during a natural stride. Try to keep some flexibility in your knees -- don’t lock them tight.
Potential injuries: Wrist sprains and hip problems.
How to avoid them: Don’t put excess weight on your wrists; reinforce them with supports; don’t let anyone "push" your body into a position it doesn’t naturally go into without pain.