Nervous about injuring yourself in the gym? Discover the top tips for staying safe and injury-free when you workout. Lifting weights in the gym is a great way to build muscle, improve your strength and change your physique. However, if you don’t do things correctly there’s always a risk that you could injure yourself.
Which is why whether you’re new to working out or you’re an experienced gym-bunny, there are some vital steps you should take to make sure you’re safe, and injury-free when training.
In this article, we’ll look at the top tips you can take to keep yourself safe and minimize the risk of injury the next time you’re in the gym.
Are Gyms Safe?
Gyms are a safe place to train, but it’s always worth remembering that often you’re challenging yourself physically as you get tired, and when that happens, it can lead to mistakes and injuries.
Because we’re so used to seeing people work out we forget how dangerous some of the equipment can be if not used correctly, but all it takes is one small mistake while holding a barbell, or an untied shoelace while running on the treadmill and you could end up in serious pain.
Sprained joints, broken bones, and even death are all possible in the gym, which is why you must do things the right way every time you train. It’s also important to remember that injuries can happen anywhere, whether you’re working out in a class, using weights to tone your arms, or even when you’re doing cardio, but don’t worry, if you follow our expert guidance below, we’ll show exactly how you can minimize your risk of getting hurt.
Prepare Your Body
Before undergoing any type of exercise you should always prepare your body first, and that starts before you even get to the gym. Make sure you’ve had enough sleep, you’re feeling well-rested, you’ve eaten and drank throughout the day, and you’re in a position where you can take part in the exercise. Once you do it’s important to warm up first.
Whether that means jogging on a treadmill and stretching your entire body or doing some active mobility drills to make sure you’re ready to go, you must be physically and mentally prepared to exercise.
If you’re one of those people who simply walk into the gym and head over to your first station, you dramatically increase the chances of picking up an injury.
Dress for the Gym
When you’re heading to the gym make sure you’ve packed the right type of clothes to work out in. Most people think this means something easy to move in, and while that’s correct, there are also other things you need to consider before you begin your workout.
You should wear suitable shoes that protect your feet but which are also right for the activity you’re taking part in, for example, if you’re going to do a high-intensity exercise class that involves lateral movement, you need a pair of sneakers that can handle that so you don’t turn your ankle.
It’s also important that you don’t have loose hanging clothes that can get caught in any equipment or be a hazard when you’re training and this goes for your hair and accessories too.
Think about the type of exercise you have planned, and if you have any jewelry, piercings, or anything else which needs to come out, do it before you start.
Once you do begin to workout it’s important to approach things the right way and you don’t try to do too much too soon.
You should always ease yourself into your workout (build up your weight slowly, use a spotter if trying a new weight) and you shouldn’t try to jump to a new weight or a new exercise just because you see someone else do it.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen people get injured because they tried to do something before they were ready. Don’t be that person, take the slow approach and keep yourself safe.
A general rule of thumb is to slightly increase your workload from your previous session, and using this formula can help. If you do a set of 10 and you feel like you can do 12, make it a little heavier (very small increment). But if you’re doing 10, and it’s difficult as you get to 10, don’t increase the weight, maybe go a little lower.
Listen to Your Body
Many things can affect your performance while working out and whether it’s something small, like the gym temperatures not right or your allergies are playing up, you should always listen to your body when you train.
You may find yourself struggling on a weight you can normally lift or for no particular reason your session may just feel harder than usual, well if that’s the case, there’s no harm in lowering the reps and making sure you feel comfortable and in control when training.
People say things like “No Pain, No Gain”, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If something feels off, if you’re struggling or if there’s pain, stop, because that isn’t right, and it could cause more damage in the long term.
Leave Your Ego at Home
One of the biggest causes of injury in the gym is people trying to do something that they simply shouldn’t and unfortunately, men tend to be the culprits here, which is why it’s so important to leave your ego at home when you go to the gym.
Your goal should be to stick to your workout and to train at your own capabilities. Just because you see someone else lifting more weight than you or do something you can’t, you shouldn’t take it as a challenge to your ego.
I’ve seen way too many broken bones and bad injuries as a result of people trying to lift more than they should to impress someone else, trust me, it’s not worth it, just stick to your own workout and progress at your own pace.
If in doubt, ask for help
When you first joined the gym you should have been taken through an induction and you may have even been offered a complimentary session to show you how to use the equipment. If you were, but you turned it down, go back and ask for help. There’s no shame in asking a professional for help and it could be the reason why you avoid a bad injury.
Even if you’re an experienced trainer and you don’t want to look foolish, go and ask anyway.
Whether it’s a new piece of equipment that you’re interested in using, or there’s something that you’ve simply never used before, go and ask to be shown how to use the equipment safely.
If in doubt, you should be able to find instructional ‘how to’ videos, showing you what to do on YouTube .
Master Your Technique
This goes well with the point above. It’s extremely important that you know how to do everything safely and you shouldn’t even think about increasing the difficulty until you’re confident you can do an exercise correctly. The important thing to note here is that this goes for all forms of exercise.
I’ve seen people deadlifting with a barbell, using awful technique, which has a dramatic impact on the health of their back.
I’ve also seen people pedaling incorrectly on a spin bike, while also using incorrect posture, which causes them to be in extreme pain for days after their exercise.
And I’ve seen people doing simple bodyweight squats with such bad technique that it makes their knees, hips, and ankles hurt.
Remember, the gym staff are there to help, so if something doesn’t feel right or you want some reassurances, ask for help.
Being dehydrated in the gym is an easy way to impact your performance, and whether it leads to muscle cramp, fatigue, or in some extreme cases, fainting, it can be extremely dangerous.
It’s important to make sure you drink enough water before you get to the gym so you don’t feel the effects when you’re there, and then carry a water bottle with you so that you can sip water throughout. Once you’ve finished your workout, you should drink again to help your body repair and restore itself following your session.
While we’re not trying to say that danger exists around every dumbbell, it’s important to know that using a gym can be dangerous and can lead to injuries if you don’t do things the right way.
Whether you’re lifting weights, running on a treadmill, or taking part in an exercise class, there are numerous ways you can injure yourself, with some injuries being extremely severe.
However, by following the expert advice found in this article you’ve got a much better chance of keeping safe. So the next time you’re in the gym, be mindful of the rules above, and if you see someone who’s putting themselves at risk, share your expertise, and help to keep them safe too.
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