If your New Year’s resolution involves unfreezing your gym membership and going back to work on your fitness, then you might want to take some time and precautions to ensure that you don’t leave with a brand new injury that will keep you off your feet for even longer! All muscles, whether you used to be a professional athlete or you’ll be using a gym for the first time ever, need time to get back into the groove of use and rebuild themselves to be stronger and more resilient.
This means not going “all-in” from the start. Taking the proper precautions is just as important in your journey to fitness than any exercise is. Here’s 6 things that you can do to avoid injuries at the gym, so that you can be on your feet and exploring exercise without pain!
1. Warm Up, Stretch, and Cool Down
Number one on the list and one of the most effective ways to prevent simple injuries that evolve from disuse is to take the time to warm your body up to the more intense workouts that you might want to do and cooling down after you’ve completed them. If you haven’t been working out or have only been doing low-impact, low-intensity workouts, stretching is an integral part of exercising. Allow your body time to adjust to this new venture, you’ll thank yourself later!
2. Practice the Movements without the Weights
Improper form and misuse of machines is a big source of injuries at the new year. Just because you’ve seen someone do a workout, or you think you know how to work a machine, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. More often than not, there’s more to a practiced movement than what meets the eye. You might have to pay attention to your posture, the position of your feet and hands, and which muscles to engage for the exercise to be properly and safely completed. If you’re going to the gym solo, brush up on proper form and practice those movements without weights before jumping into the thick of it!
3. Start With a Personal Trainer
If you’re not confident with your knowledge of how to exercise safely or how to get the results that you want, we recommend going the extra mile and hiring a personal trainer to get you started! Some gyms will have them available for an extra fee, and you can schedule sessions with them, and others will allow you to bring your own personal trainer (provided they pay to use the gym, too). This provides more structure for you, having workouts made and decided for you instead of having to figure out what to do on your own, and you’ll always have someone to spot you and watch your form to prevent injury.
4. Buy Proper Equipment
Depending on what you go to the gym to do, this could be as simple as investing in a new pair of running shoes to buying activity-specific gear like a yoga mat, resistance bands, or power-lifting equipment. A lot of gyms might provide these items, but they might not be the best quality there is. For better impact support or to fit your experience and/or intensity level, you’ll want to invest in your own gear to bring, so that you know you’re getting the protection you need.
5. Cross Train
Cross training in multiple different areas strengthens your entire body instead of focusing intensely on one area. Think of it like nutrition – as healthy as fish might be, eating only fish is still unhealthy. Give yourself a well-rounded approach so that you don’t end up over-working one part of your body or leaving another open for injury by neglecting it. Remember that every part of the body has a purpose and works together to move, if only one part of the equation is worked on, it puts extra strain on the other parts to keep up. Work everything so that you don’t hurt anything!
6. Drink Water
Don’t forget to hydrate! Your muscles need water and electrolytes to function and repair themselves, so you can reduce your risk of overheating, cramping, excessive exhaustion, headaches, and muscle tears. Drink your water or electrolyte drink before, during, and after your workout to maintain proper hydration for function and repair.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury at the gym in the Louisville, Kentucky-area, board certified sports medicine physician Dr. Stacie Grossfeld at Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC can help. Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC is accepting new patients, and same day appointments are available. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC today at 502-212-2663.