30 Ways To Prevent Common Gym Injuries

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There are probably hundreds of ways you can get your sweat on at the gym, but for every potential benefit those free weights and machines offer, there’s at least one other drawback if you don’t watch what you’re doing. Working out with improper form and without due caution can lead to an injury that can set you back on your fitness goals, or worse—put you out of the game for good. That’s something we’d like to help prevent. Herein, we found 30 common gym injuries, plus what you can do to ensure a safe and worry-free workout.

 
Photo: BodyBuilding.com
 
Squats
 
Problem: The fix:
Pain under kneecap Squat only as far as 90 degrees, not allowing your knees to stick out past your toes.
Sharp pains in lower back Stick your butt out more, and keep your gaze straight forward to maintain proper spinal curvature on your way down.
General knee pain Point your feet out at a 45-degree angle, allowing the joint to open properly as you squat and keeping pressure off it.
Lower back strain Try a smaller weight—your back muscles are compensating for weak glutes.
Hip flexor tightness Lean back a bit. If you lean forward too much, your quadriceps take on a large amount of the effort.

 

Deadlifts 
 

Problem: The fix:
Shoulder pain Grasp the bar at shoulder width. When picking the bar up, lock your elbows facing backwards and roll your shoulders back.
Back pain Maintain a neutral spine, and make sure to use your hips and glutes to help pick the bar off the ground.
Strained biceps Lock your elbows to avoid bending them prior to the lift, as the rotation could lead to an actual tear.
Herniated discs Always, always warm up prior to doing deadlifts, and only increase weight in small increments.
 
Bicep curls 
 
Problem: The fix:
Recurring forearm pain Often due to a form of tendonitis caused by overuse. Allow ample time for rest between bicep workouts or face reduced range of motion. That said, carefully train your forearms, as they are likely fatiguing long before your biceps are.
Elbow or wrist soreness Pull your elbows in close to your body and keep your forearms straight during the curling motion, ensuring they’re locked the whole way.
Pain behind shoulders Don’t allow your shoulder to slouch forward. Maintain good posture and keep it locked back.
Bicep tendon tear A common injury for extreme lifting, make sure to increase your weight in very small increments.
Numbness or tingling You are putting undue pressure on the Median nerve that runs through your arm—stick to smaller weights.

 

Pull-ups 
 
Problem: The fix:
Shoulder pain Actively draw the shoulder muscles up so you’re not slouching, packing them in. Hanging passively puts extreme stress on the shoulder joints. The shoulder should be the first part to move when you begin the pull-up.
Strained rotator cuff Stop doing Kipping pull-ups, or pull-ups in which you swing your legs and use their momentum to help you up. If you must do them, do so when you’ve gained enough shoulder strength to do them in a controlled manner.
Pulled upper back Keep your chest, arms and shoulders tight during the pull phase of the pull-up to avoid swinging or creating momentum.
Elbow pain Tuck your elbows in and engage your shoulders at the top of the motion, ensuring your back generates most of the effort necessary to bring your chin over the bar.

 

Bench press 
 
Problem: The fix:
Shoulder pain Ensure you warm your shoulders up properly before benching and do not overload the weight. Keep your elbows tucked in and ensure you don’t round your shoulders when beginning the press and when lowering the weight to your chest.
Neck pain You crane and tense your neck when your back and shoulders are out of alignment. Ensure your back and neck are fully flush with the pad.

 

Leg press 
 
Problem: The fix:
Knee pain Never lock your knees during a leg press. Avoid extending your legs completely, and never allow them to bend more than 90 degrees. It puts all the resistance directly onto the knee joint.
Foot pain Push the weight plate up using your heels as the primary point of contact. Pushing with the balls of your feet affects the foot as well as your body’s posture.
Knee swelling Warm your legs and glutes up prior to the leg press, and avoid high-impact exercises such as jogging on pavement prior to and immediately after the exercise—that constitutes overuse.
Back pain Do not press your lower back flush with the pad—ensure a healthy spinal curvature—and make sure the seat is in its proper position so that, when extended, your legs form a right angle with your body.
Knees buckle suddenly Lower the weight and, again, don’t lock your knees by extending your legs fully. Buckling is your body’s automatic response to the sudden pressure.

 

Shoulder press 
 
Problem: The fix:
Pain in shoulders Lowering or raising a bar behind the neck leads to a sharp increase in injuries. Try using a variation of shoulder presses using individual dumbbells.
Shoulder “sticks” during rotation To prevent shoulder impingement, lock your shoulders so that they don’t roll forward (or backward) when moving the weight above your head. Slow down your movement if you have to.
 
Neck strain Do not overload the bar and allow for plenty of rest between shoulder workouts.
Lower back pain Keep your core tight throughout the weight lift. Ensure your arms remain to the side of your head as well. If they creep forward, it forces your body to pull backwards to compensate with your lower back.
Hip tightness Rounding your upper back backwards can result in your hips taking more of the weight, exaggerating the curve of your spine in the lower back and shortening the muscles. Take more standing breaks at work—this is a common symptom of a desk job.

 

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