It’s not uncommon to develop injuries when exercising. It’s almost a rite of passage for some people. For this set of people, you become a true athlete after your first injury. While this might not be true, injuries shouldn’t strike fear into the mind of any athlete. It is usually disappointing, sustaining an injury when in your fitness groove, setting personal bests and seeing results, only to find ourselves suddenly sidelined by unexpected pain. However, instead of getting sad and depressed about this, one can always use the opportunity to analyze why the injury happened, and figure out ways to prevent it from happening again. Below are some of the common workout injuries, and how to prevent them.
- Knee pain: This is a condition in which an individual develops a vague pain or discomfort around the kneecap. This can be a signal for patellofemoral knee syndrome. This condition is also referred to as “runner’s knee.” Knee pain is usually linked to poor tracking of the patella.
Persons affected with this condition may hear a creaking, crunching, or grating sound as they move their knees through a normal range of motion. Muscle imbalances can also worsen this condition. Other activities that could lead to knee pain include performing weighted repetitions with compromised form and improper knee alignment. Lifting weights that are too heavy or doing too many repetitions can also cause damage to the knee extensors and lead to pain. For individuals that run, knee pain may develop after running hillier routes as a downhill can put a lot of stress to the patellar tendon.
How to prevent knee pain: One of the ways of preventing knee pain is by keeping your knees healthy by focusing on exercises that strengthen the hips and quadriceps muscle. In addition, you should focus on keeping the knees in proper alignment when weightlifting, to protect the extensors and also strengthen the surrounding muscles.
- Wrist strain: The wrist is a complex joint that has a high degree of mobility. However, mobility and instability go together. Doing a lot of barbells curls with a straight bar, or working out with a ton of push-ups, can put too much stress on the wrist and the surrounding muscles. Other exercises that require significant shoulder mobility to keep the weight off the wrists can also place too much stress on the area. An example of this exercise is the front squat.
How to prevent it: One of the ways of preventing wrist strain is by focusing on the smaller stabilizing muscles, instead of lifting heavy weights to strengthen the wrists. Examples of things that could help include kettlebell swings and clean. Others include wrist rotation exercises and wrist extensions with a Theraband.
- Iliotibial band syndrome: This is a common injury that occurs when the iliotibial band becomes tight and inflames. The iliotibial band is a band of ligaments that runs along the outside of the leg from the knee to the hip. Persons affected with this condition may likely notice some discomfort at the hip or outside of the knee. w This injury may develop due to the overuse of the ligament, a rapid increase in mileage or due to running on an uneven or very rough surface. Making use of old and unsupportive footwear could also lead to the development of iliotibial band syndrome.
How to prevent iliotibial band syndrome: One of the ways of preventing iliotibial band syndrome is by ensuring that your footwear is in good condition. In addition, increasing your mileage slowly and safely reduces the risk of developing an injury. Also, running on different routes, so you don’t run in the same direction too many times helps to reduce the risk of developing iliotibial band syndrome. Cyclists should ensure that their seat height is not too high or too low, and their torso is in a good position so their hip and leg can be well aligned on each pedal stroke.
- Rotator Cuff Injury: Rotator cuff muscles are a group of 4 muscles that support and stabilize the shoulder joint. However, repetitive movements of the muscles, as seen in sports such as swimming, lawn tennis, military presses and so on, can lead to a rotator cuff strain. Studies have shown that the risk of developing this injury increases as one age.
How to prevent it: One of the ways of preventing rotator cuff injury is by incorporating strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff muscles into your upper-body program. In addition, you should maintain good posture, and avoid repetitive overhead movements with weights that are too heavy. You should rather focus on working with weights that are light enough to allow the rotator cuff muscles to work without relying on the deltoids and pectoral muscles.
- Low back strain: Low back pain that develops during a workout may indicate that you’ve strained your muscles surrounding the spine. This may occur when you’ve pushed yourself beyond your limit. Severe conditions may lead to nerve compression or disk herniation.
How to prevent it: You should maintain a neutral spine when lifting. Ensure you have a good form before attempting heavyweights.
- Sprained ankle: This is a common injury, which mostly occurs during a run. Also, single-leg exercise increases the risk of developing a sprained ankle. The ankle is one of the most mobile joints in the body, but the joint can be sprained, when the foot turns inward and the joint rolls too far.
How to prevent it: By carrying out ankle flexibility exercises and also work on strengthening the muscles in the lower leg and foot.
- Pectoral strain: This mostly occurs due to too many heavy bench press. One way to prevent this is by working up to your bench press slowly and gradually over time.
- Groin pull: This mostly occurs during squats lunges or while sprinting. One way to prevent this from happening is by warming up the inner thigh muscles before working out.
- Elbow pain: This is a common injury and mostly present as epicondylitis. One way of preventing this from happening is by keeping your wrist in a neutral position while lifting.
- Shin splints: This is the pain that seems to radiate along the inner edge of your shinbone. This injury is common in runners. One way to prevent this injury is by wearing appropriate shoes.
10 Common Workout Injuries and How to Avoid Them | Livestrong.com. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1011281-10-common-workout-injuries-avoid/
10 Most Common Gym Injuries (and How to Prevent Them). (2019). Retrieved from https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/10-most-common-gym-injuries-and-how-to-prevent-them