4 Best Practices For Preventing Workout Injuries
When you lift weights, there is always the possibility of getting injured.
However, that risk isn’t as big as many people think…
In fact, one study showed that you are actually less likely to get hurt lifting weights than you are playing a sport like football or basketball.
That being said, the risk of injury is always there – and most people that have lifted weights for many years have probably sustained at least a few workout-related injuries.
Shoulder injuries and back injuries are probably the most common, but it is also possible to hurt your knees, wrists, ankles – or pull just about any muscle in your body.
Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to greatly reduce the chance of getting injured during your workouts.
In this article, I’ll walk you through 4 ‘best practices’ that I recommend following to help prevent getting hurt in the gym.
Best Practice #1: Lift Only What You Can Actually Lift
According to research done on gym injuries, the most common way to hurt yourself is by trying to lift more weight than you can properly handle, causing you to drop the weights on yourself.
Why does this happen so frequently?
Well, for many people, it is easy to let your ego take charge during your workouts.
You want to feel strong – and be seen as strong by other gym goers – so you load on more weight to the bar than you can actually lift.
Then as you try to lift the weight, you find that it is too heavy, you lose your balance, and it all comes crashing down…
And even if you manage to avoid having the weight actually crush you, trying to bite off more than you can chew will have a degenerative impact on your joints and tendons overtime.
Remember, if you are unable to complete the prescribed number of reps using a full range of motion – going down to parallel on your squats, touching your chest with the bar when bench pressing – then you should reduce the amount of weight to where you can actually lift it properly.
Best Practice #2: Always Remember To Warm Up
I’ve covered how to warm-up properly before – but it is such an important point that I’m going to briefly touch on it again here.
In my experience, the vast majority of people don’t warm-up properly, if they even bother to warm-up at all!
They’ll do some static stretching when they first roll into the gym, which isn’t very effective.
Or they’ll do 1 or 2 half-assed light weight sets, before slamming on the heavy weights.
Instead, you want to be doing a proper warm-up routine for your first exercise that brings blood flow to the relevant muscles, increases body temperature, and gets you used to the movements that you’ll be doing.
Studies have shown that dynamically going through the motions of the exercises you’re about to do will substantially decrease your risk of injury.
So, without fail, you should take the extra 5-10 minutes to warm-up properly at the beginning of every workout.
Best Practice #3: Make Sure That Your Form Is Perfect
If you don’t practice proper form when lifting weights, you are practically begging for an injury.
Form is one of those things that tends to deteriorate as we get more comfortable in the gym – and progress to heavier and heavier weights.
Before you know it, in your quest to pull more weight on your deadlift, you are rounding your lower back, putting yourself at risk of a herniated disk.
Or you aren’t properly tucking your shoulders when you bench press, setting yourself up for a potential rotator cuff injury.
Sometimes poor form can be the result of trying to lift too much weight (see the first point); however, other times it can simply be a lack of awareness of the nuances of how you’re supposed to be doing the movement.
Best Practice #4: Don’t Ignore Early Warning Signs
There is an all-too-common belief held by many people that work out…
And that is that if something hurts, you should simply ‘work through’ the pain…
This means basically sucking it up, and continuing to plow through your workout even when something doesn’t feel right.
Let me be very clear here: this is incredibly stupid, and will massively increase the chance that you’ll set your progress back.
There is no badge of honor from persevering through crippling pain if all that it means is that you are unable to lift properly for the next month because of it!
Instead, the second that you feel that bad kind of pain – the kind that isn’t just muscle soreness, but something else – you should stop what you’re doing and regroup.
If you determine that you’ve pulled something, you should immediately leave the gym and cut your workout short.
I know that this isn’t always easy to do – but trust me that you’ll recover significantly faster if you heed early warning signs and stop immediately.