The month of January is a busy time in most gyms or training centers. Many people attempt a comeback or a first experience at the gym, hoping to get into shape as part of their New Year’s Resolution. But even with the best of intentions, the risk of injury is very real, particularly when it comes to a return after a long period of inactivity.
Some injuries that are recurrent in gyms:
- Back pain
- Tendinitis and other inflammatory injuries
- Pulled muscle
Although these injuries are considerably different, their causes are often similar:
- Lack of a warm-up
- Lack of lumbar and abdominal stability
- Bad technique/form
- Lack of stretching after exercise
- Short recovery time
People most at risk of injury
Although even a person in optimal physical condition is exposed to injury during training, some characteristics increase the risk injury such as having a sedentary lifestyle, age (more likely to have osteoarthritis), being overweight.
In the case of people with a sedentary lifestyle, injuries often occur from lack of muscular endurance.
Aging people, for their part, may have to deal with osteoarthritis and in some cases problems with limited physical capabilities. While overweight people often suffer from joint problems, especially in the knees, that limits their capacity to do many activities in weight bearing.
Some tips for prevention
For beginners, it is recommended:
- Use a training program developed by a Personal Trainer. Most gyms offer this service or you can always seek out independent trainers. This is a good way to learn the right techniques and to become familiar with the equipment. In addition, a Personal Trainer will be able to create a training program based on your current situation and your goals (weight loss or muscle gain).
- Always complete the cardiovascular aspects of your exercise program. Running, stationary bikes and elliptical trainer are great warm-up exercises for the whole body. However, these exercises should be taken on gradually.
- Begin training with shorter sessions and increase over time, but always do so gradually.
- Warm up lifting very low loads, then increase the resistance (for those who want to focus on gaining muscle mass).
- Do not work the same muscle groups two days in a row. A good frequency to start strength training is 3-4 times per week. Anyone wishing to train every day, should alternate between upper body and lower body.
- Ensure you have a good lumbar and abdominal stability before embarking on weight exercises.
For those who make a return to training after a long absence:
- It is important to make a gradual return to regain muscle memory. Do more repetitions with less of resistance at first. After 4-6 weeks, you should be able to pick up the pace you were at before. Once it becomes easy to perform 20 reps with a certain load, it is a good indicator that it can be increased.
- With some training objectives, such as increasing muscle mass for example, require higher loads at a lower number of repetitions (between 6 and 12), it is still preferable to work endurance in the first weeks by lifting lower resistance (12 to 20).
What to do in case of injury
Of course, it is strongly recommended to promptly consult a medical professional for an injury or even when you have concerns. An untreated injury can cause other problems, such as compensation from other muscles. This can cause overuse and add on additional injuries.
A person wishing to continue training after an injury must ensure that it heals properly to avoid further repercussions. A Physiotherapist can prepare a training program with exercises specifically tailored to the injury. Physiotherapists are also often called upon to work with Personal Trainers because they can modify the training programs accordingly.
All in all, no one should be deprived of physical training because of the fear of injury. The benefits of a healthy body, short and long term, far outweigh the possibility of injury, especially when these risks are minimized by good training and recovery methods.