Every year many people come to Physiotherapy to receive treatment for injuries sustained in gyms. It is unfortunate that people who attempt to look after their bodies and fitness levels can often be the ones who become injured. Reasons for these injuries occurring include:
- Lack of adequate warm up
- Incorrect form
- Using too heavy a load or weight
- Changing loads too quickly
- Inadequate recovery
- Pre-existing imbalances and impairments in the body.
It is important to keep in mind that every exercise can be hazardous if done incorrectly. Having control and appropriate load progression is important to allow you to get the results you want and remain injury free. For some people certain exercises will not be appropriate for them based on factors such as their structure, injury history and strength and conditioning levels. It’s important that if you’re not sure of your technique or program talk to a knowledgeable trainer or be assessed by a knowledgeable physiotherapist. And make sure you listen to your body.
Here are the three gym basics:
SQUAT – The squat and it’s variations are arguably the most fundamental exercises you can perform. For the avid gym goer the saying goes “if you don’t squat, you’re not squat.” It’s functional and has benefits in real life from helping to strengthen your legs for running all the way to maintaining your function and mobility when you’re older as well as being a great conditioning tool. As long as there are no relevant pre-existing injuries the squat is a great exercise for all ages and fitness levels. The most common sites of injury from squats include the lower back and knees. Common causes of knee and back pain include knee tracking issues, poor strength through the posterior chain, poor core strength and positioning of the hips and spine. Many people also lack the flexibility in their ankles, hips and thoracic spine to allow optimum form.
DEADLIFT – Many argue the deadlift is the king of all exercises. Done in many variations it’s very simple- lift the weight off the ground. It’s a powerlifting movement, the initial part of Olympic lifts and a basic functional skill for daily life. Done well it’s a great whole body strengthening and conditioning tool. Done incorrectly and it can be dangerous. Common injuries may include injuries to the spine and these include ligament sprains, muscular strains and disc injuries. Causes for injury include inflexibility, rounding or overly extending the back and generally poor posture and poor execution.
BENCH PRESS – “How much do you bench?” Most guys in the gym are guilty of asking this and why not? The bench press can help to develop a strong looking chest which along with the pursuit of big arms is why most men join the gym. Done incorrectly though and it can not only lead to minimal gains in the gym but many injuries as well. Injuries include neck strains and disc injuries, wrist strains, various shoulder injuries, muscular tears and various back injuries. Technique issues include a large degree of lower back arch and poor posture, poor shoulder blade positioning, excessive wrist extension and incorrect positioning of arms throughout the movement.
Always remember prevention is better than a cure and if you’re injured you can’t train optimally. See your physiotherapist, get it checked out and listen to your body.