Injuries happen, even when we’re careful, but it’s your responsibility to do what you can to avoid them at all costs.
Unfortunately, too many people let injuries ruin their progress or even put an end to their whole transformation journey. I want to help ensure that doesn’t happen to you.
In this article, I’ll discuss a few strategies to help minimize your risk of injuring yourself in the gym.
Injuries Happen. Don’t Let Them Define You
First and foremost, when you first begin a training program, you should understand that having an injury is almost an inevitable occurrence. Just about everyone who exercises regularly will become injured at some point.
Whether that injury is due to too much weight being used, exercising in a too fatigued state, training too hard when dieting or simply having poor form, almost any variable can lead to an injury.
Regardless of whether or not you’ll become injured, you should understand that it’s not the end of your exercising journey.
Unfortunately, many people get injured and simply don’t know how to deal with it. And really, that’s not so surprising. Injuries are rough and they certainly don’t help motivation or morale if you’ve been struggling. In fact, sometimes an injury can be downright demoralizing.
However, it’s imperative that you don’t let you injuries define you, but rather, allow them to teach you how to exercise in a better way.
For example, in the past I’ve become injured from training when dieting. While in the immediate moment I was frustrated, after carefully considering what had happened, I actually became quite thankful for the injury.
An injury is the body’s way of telling us that we’re doing something incorrectly; something that needs to be changed. Whether that comes at the hand of poor form, too much weight or a combination of both, you should recognize that there’s a reason the injury occurred. Now it’s your opportunity to fix it.
Lastly, if you become injured, don’t stop training. Find ways to work around the injury and then return to training that body part once it’s healed. Too many fitness journeys have been abandoned due to a fairly minor muscle strain. Don’t let that happen to you.
Bottom Line: Injuries happen to even the most careful lifters. Rather than quitting, work around the injury and learn from your mistakes to become a more advanced and educated lifter.
Consider Previous Injuries
The best initial method for reducing the risk of injury is to assess any previous injuries, or potential problem areas that may be prone to injury, so that you can structure your program to avoid stressing these areas too much.
For example, if you have low back pain, initially jumping into heavy deadlifts before you’ve learned proper technique can be downright disastrous. However, if you understand your risk of injury ahead of time, you can begin to implement movements like the deadlift in a much more careful way, while using extremely light weight.
Remember that just because an area is prone to injury, it doesn’t mean you should avoid working that area altogether. In fact, that’s quite contrary to what I would suggest.
Since exercise can strengthen areas of the body, including weak areas, its use should be encouraged, but you need to exercise in a safe and smart way.
Lastly, remember that if you do have a trainer, it’s imperative you let them know of your potential injury risk so they can program your training accordingly, in a safe and effective manner.
Bottom Line: Being aware of previous injuries, or at least areas that are prone to injury, can allow you to build routines around those areas to avoid further injury while still progressing.
Control Weight & Form
Apart from avoiding exercises that may exacerbate injuries, the next logical step to avoiding injury in the gym is to control the amount of weight you’re using and ensuring that you use proper form.
One of the main reasons people become injured is that they overestimate strength, especially during movements that have the highest risk for injury. This, coupled with a lack of proper form, is a recipe for disaster.
The biggest contributors here are when people do complex movements like the bench press, deadlift and squat.
Typically, these movements are the best opportunity for feats of strength and really testing your limits. However, these are also some of the most technical movements you’ll encounter, which means they can have high risk and high reward.
We’ve all seen images and videos of people deadlifting with insanely rounded backs and others squatting with far too much weight on their back. I implore you, don’t be this person. Not because it shows your lack of experience but rather because doing so could result in very serious injury. Just imagine accidentally pulling a muscle with 200 pounds on your back. That is not a position you want to be in.
While lifting heavy weight is certainly impressive, don’t sacrifice your form and risk injury on the off chance that you’ll impress yourself, or anyone else for that matter. Practice good form and make appropriate weight adjustments.
Bottom Line: Overall, using a safe and effective technique is far more important than increasing weight by five pounds and risking injury. Use logic to increase weight rather than listening to your ego.
Eat According To Your Training
Lastly, I strongly suggest that if you’re training in such a demanding way that it could potentially lead to injury, then it is vital that you should eat accordingly.
For instance if you’re training very hard with a very high volume and heavy amount of weight, this might not be the best time to restrict calories. While many people use exercise to aid with weight loss, you should ensure that you’re training appropriately, taking your calorie intake into consideration.
Food helps provide us with the nutrients that we need not only to survive but to also recover from training when necessary. If you’re restricting calories severely and training extremely hard, you’ll have a tougher time recovering, which can, of course, lead to overuse injuries.
Keep in mind that if you’re severely restricting calories, you can still exercise, but you just need to tone it back a bit in the gym so as to ensure that you don’t accidentally injure yourself due to poor recovery.
Bottom Line: While exercise can help with weight loss, keep in mind that food helps you recover. The less food you consume, the more difficult it is to recover, which, if not accounted for, could lead to injury.
4 Tips To Avoid Injury In The Gym
Injury is an unfortunate and almost inevitable consequence of exercise, but it’s your responsibility to take steps to minimize the risk of it occurring.
Rather than abandoning your fitness journey as a result of an injury, I suggest learning from your experience and also working around the injury so that you can continue to progress while the injury heals.
Injuries happen, but you can take the necessary steps to prevent, or at the very least, limit their impact on your body and life.