After having an injury in the summer of 2007 to my rotator cuff while involved in some strenuous exercise, I realized just how important it is to be careful when you’re working out so that you can avoid injury. If you don’t take precautionary steps, you can end up injuring yourself like I did, and find yourself on the sidelines for weeks, or even months. And then where will you be?
An article on MSNBC this week talks about some fitness faux pas that many people make when working out that can lead to injury. Here they are – try examining your own situation to see if you’re doing any of these:
- Not using the right gear: A lot of people will often not use the right equipment when working out, which can lead to injury. Things like not wearing a helmet when riding a bike or roller blading (A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that 92 percent of bicyclists killed in 2007 reportedly were not wearing a helmet), or not wearing shin guards when playing soccer. Even wearing the wrong type of shoes while running can lead to an injury. Make sure to use the necessary safety gear, and fitness equipment when working out.
- Not paying attention to instruction: Many people when they first start playing a sport – or using a new piece of fitness equipment – will try to engage in the activity without first learning how to do it. Not playing tennis correctly? You can get tennis elbow. Not using a piece of weight lifting equipment correctly? You can easily strain a muscle or hurt yourself in other ways. Get some instruction from a personal trainer, a tennis coach or other professional to make sure you’re doing it right!
- Overdoing it: This is particularly a risk for those not used to exercising – couch potatoes just getting back into exercise. Instead of overdoing it, ease yourself back into an exercise routine gradually to avoid injury, health problems, etc. Overdoing it can also be a risk for more experienced fitness aficionados. Exercising too hard day in and day out can be harmful to your body and lead to “overuse injuries”. Try alternating hard workouts and easier workouts to stay healthier.
- Not varying your routine: If you do the same workouts and exercises day in and day out, it can lead to overuse injuries and muscle imbalances. Instead of running every day, try throwing in some alternate exercises like a workout tape or mountain biking. Cross training is a good idea!
- Overexposing yourself to the elements: If you’re going running outside in the winter, make sure you dress appropriately with a first layer of moisture wicking clothing, as well as making sure to wear gloves and a hat. Not doing that can lead to illness. By the same token make sure to stay hydrated in warmer weather, wearing clothing that is conducive to cooling you down. Sunscreen is also a good idea.
Some good ideas to take into account to help you avoid injury.
If I had been more careful and listened to instruction, I may have avoided my rotator cuff injury. The injury happened because I wasn’t using proper form while lifting some heavy weights. That allowed me to get off balance, and to tear the rotator cuff. If I had used proper form I wouldn’t have been on the sidelines for 4-5 months while it healed. I’ll be more careful next time.
Have you ever had a situation where you injured yourself because you weren’t being careful, using the right equipment or weren’t using common sense? Tell us about it in the comments.