Have you noticed how crowded the gyms are this time of year? It’s all those folks who made New Year’s Resolutions to get in shape. It’s great that so many people are working out. But injuries at the gym take place far too frequently, yet for the most part, are easily avoidable.
Here’s how to ensure your trip to the gym is a safe one:
1. Warm up
Warming up is essential before any rigorous physical activity, especially if going to the gym straight from work where muscles are likely tight from sitting all day. A few yoga poses, light stretching, or a couple minutes of jumping rope will get muscles and joints loosened up and primed for the workout to follow.
2. Don’t push past pain
If you experience any sharp or traveling pain (up and down your arm or leg) as you work out, you need to stop. Pain indicates there’s damage being done. Take a breather, and check to see that you have correct form or are using equipment properly. If after making adjustments, there’s still pain, it’s time to quit.
3. Take a day off
As much as you may love your gym time, it’s important to take a day off after three or four of going strong to give your body a chance to recover. Muscles need time to relax and heal after strenuous activity–not allowing them to do so will wear them down and leave you susceptible to injury.
4. Cross train
Take advantage of all that your gym has to offer by cross-training, or trying a new and different class/activity every so often. Doing the same workout over and over will backfire eventually and your body will stop producing results. Or, you’re likely to wind up with an overuse injury like tendonitis or shin splints.
5. Wear proper shoes
Running laps on the gym track is very different from taking a kick-boxing class. One requires a flexible, softer shoe (running), while the other warrants some serious ankle support for the high-impact jumping and side-to-side movements. Invest in a pair of cross-training shoes suited for several different types of activity to avoid foot and ankle issues.
Finally, be careful when using free weights or other weight-related machines, as they are the cause of many gym injuries also.