How to prevent common exercise injuries

Torn ligaments. Muscle twitch. Overuse injuries. With each new exercise routine, there’s a new risk of injury, whether it’s from straining a muscle from lifting, getting knee pain from running, or rupturing a tendon during gymnastics exercises. with what he can 8.6 million sports and leisure injuries Every year in America, these fears are unfounded.

However, before you let that fear stop you from starting a new exercise routine, the good news is that the majority of sports injuries are “associated with overuse, and are not painful, which means they usually do not require surgery,” said Dr. Matthew Matava, an orthopedic surgeon. and a sports medicine physician at Washington University in St. Louis.

With the right precautions, you can develop a good exercise routine, one that maximizes benefits while minimizing injury risks. To figure out which exercises make you especially susceptible to injury, we turned to a mix of sports physicians, physical therapists, and athletic trainers to get their consensus on the most common mistakes people make and how to prevent them.

The deadlift—in which the lifter begins a squat position, pulling a heavy bar into an upright, closed position—is one of the more famous Olympic lifts. However, its simplicity is deceptive. “The deadlift is one of the best tools, if done right, and one of the most dangerous things you can do if you make a mistake,” said Cameron Abt, an athletic trainer at the University of Rochester.

One of the big mistakes people make is rounding – or bending – the back. The deadlift begins with a lifter in a squat position, with a neutral spine, meaning the back is neither arched nor round, as they lift the weight to their thigh. During this movement, slight adduction of the spine can put extra pressure on the lower back muscles, which could cause the back to squat or worse.

“People don’t necessarily have bad form, it’s that people underestimate the amount of dynamic deadlift exercise and excessive focus,” said Fimi Pettiko, MD, a physical therapist at the New Jersey Riverdale Physical Therapy Center. They don’t pay attention for a split second, roll their back a little, and then ‘BOOM! “

For those less experienced, there are a number of alternative exercises that can offer similar benefits and reduce stress on the lower back. This includes deadlifts hex barThe wide, hexagonal band that surrounds the lifter reduces the amount of pressure on the lower back.

For those who want to die, it is necessary to pay close attention to form. When working with beginners, Mr. Apt clients exercise without weights. “We’ll see people for weeks before we give them weight to move around with,” he said.

It is also essential to listen to your body and adapt as needed, especially if fatigue begins to affect your form. “There is nothing wrong with stressing out about fatigue,” said Dr. Pettico. “It’s all about realizing that I’m exhausted, I have to focus on my level 100 percent.”


When most people think of weightlifting, the first thing they might think of is the bench press, in which the lifter lies on a bench, and the weight pushes upward. The very iconic bench press of comedians from Chris Farley YouTube star Mike Tornabene used it to make fun of bodybuilders. But it can cause rotator cuff injuries if done incorrectly.

The rotator cuff is particularly weak because many tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves travel through a narrow pathway, called the subacromial space, between the scapula and the humerus. “It’s a very small space, almost like a road,” said Lauren Schroer, an athletic trainer with the American Council on Exercise who specializes in chronic injuries.

A common mistake is bending the shoulders up, almost like leaning on a chair, which can put a lot of pressure on this area. Ms Shroyer said this can lead to impingement syndrome, a painful condition caused by the shoulder blade rubbing against the rotator cuff. The same can also happen if you raise the bar above your head instead of your chest. To avoid this, she said, make sure your arms are about shoulder width apart, and your shoulder blades are pinched together, with the bar lowered to the middle of your chest.

Another common problem is lifting the body too quickly, which can lead to an acute injury, such as a pectoral muscle tear. When this happens, the lifter often feels a popping sensation, loses weight control, and now “one nipples are pointing one way and the other pointing the other,” Dr. Matava said. “We’ll see that a lot,” he added, often in inexperienced lifters trying to lift more weights than they’re ready for.

Chest muscle tears are painful and tend to happen when the weight is lowered to the chest. Although dropping weight or having your body feel like the easiest part of the exercise, it also increases your risk of injury because the muscles contract and lengthen. This risk of injury also increases because lifters feel the hardest part is done and they are less focused, said Dr. Michael Maloney, MD, a sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon at the University of Rochester. Other examples of this type of risky movement include lowering the bar to the floor during a deadlift, walking or running down a hill, lowering your body while pulling up, or bringing your torso back to the ground while seated. To avoid this, work on maintaining focus throughout the entire exercise.

In his clinical practice, Dr. Matava often treats weightlifting and running injuries. “Of the two, I probably see more than one running,” he said. The bulk of these injuries are related to overuse. “For running, it’s a rule as well,” said Dr. Matava. “So many miles, so many hills, so little rest.”

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One very common problem with runners is knee pain, specifically patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is often called “runner’s knee.” Runner’s knee is thought to be a nerve irritation caused by a muscular imbalance between the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles that misalign the patella. To prevent this, build up your mileage gradually and incorporate regular strength training. The good news is that although runner’s knee is a problem, research shows that running can benefit from it Knee cartilage strengtheningwith runners less likely to develop arthritis than their peers who do not run.

Another common injury among runners is stress fractures. This often happens when a runner tries to add too many miles too quickly, without taking enough rest days. The effect of running causes micro-fractures in the bones, which result in stronger bones when given time to heal. However, if the runner begins to run a longer distance, without taking rest days, these microfractures accumulate up to the point of injury.

These two injuries tend to happen because runners “did something unusual compared to what they were trained to do,” said Dr. Matava. Typically, these stress fractures will be seen in people who have just started running, or who have decided to ramp up their training quickly. A good rule of thumb is to limit mileage increases to less than 10 percent per week.

One of the most common acute sports-related injuries It is a meniscus rupturewhich is at least 10 percent of people will experience during their lifetime. The meniscus are discs of cartilage that act as shock absorbers, located at the ends of the femur and shinbone. Most tears are caused by degeneration of the cartilage, which makes it more susceptible to injury, and can occur during squatting or twisting movements, such as box jumps, or squats with weights, or during sports such as tennis, soccer, and basketball.

Meniscus tears often occur during highly dynamic movements. The risk of injury increases when these movements are done too quickly, with many pounds or without adequate movement exercise. For example, in a squat, Dr. Matava said, if a person has “too much weight, and descends too deeply, the meniscus can rupture.”

As with other injuries, the risk increases at the end of the exercise, when fatigue begins to appear. Ms. Schroer learned this lesson the hard way when she pushed herself hard at lifting weights. She said, “I was getting tired, but I said to myself, ‘You can do another set.'” Instead, she tore the cartilage at the end of the femur, an injury that required surgery and six weeks of immobilization.

When it comes to making progress in the gym, there’s a tension between pushing yourself to get better and pushing yourself toward injury. Ms Schroyer’s advice is to focus on the idea that “in the next week, I can do more, because I have allowed myself time to recover,” she said. When it comes to your workout routine, she recommends blending consistency with gradual progression.

“I always encourage people to do something they can trust,” Ms Schroer said. “Take it slowly but do it anyway. Exercise can put a person at risk of injury, but lack of exercise puts a person at risk of poor health.”

Rachel Fairbank is a freelance science writer based in Texas.

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