Injury Prevention & Treatment

3 Tips to Avoid the ER Due to Common Mistakes at The Gym

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s only natural that we’re starting to think about getting fitter, healthier, more mindful, etc. in the New Year. But while many of us are quick to double down on our workouts in an effort to burn off all those holiday calories, what we often fail to consider is the extensive toll all that jumping, running, heavy lifting and movement can have on our joints- especially if we’re newbies or are just coming back from a workout hiatus!

“The most recent data reported says that more than 50,000 exercisers landed in the ER after run-ins with workout equipment, including flying off treadmills, getting snapped in the face by resistance bands, dropping heavy weights on their toes, etc.,” says Dr. Leon E. Popovitz, an orthopedic surgeon at New York Bone & Joint Specialists, an orthopedic practice based in New York City.

“In addition, injuries caused by exercise and exercise equipment increased almost 45% between 2007 and 2010! Moreover, injuries can be insidious, as seen in shoulder labral tears where symptoms often do not present themselves until weeks after the injury.”

With this in mind, here are Popovitz’s recommendations on how to safely approach the top three exercises that tend to cause more harm than good at the gym:

  1. Aim for Balance for a Better Back:  The overhead standing lift When executed properly this exercise distributes weight evenly across the shoulders and spine and is great for toning the shoulders. However, many people add too much weight to the bar, and that causes them to hold the bar slightly in front of their body. When this happens, the weight distribution is altered and can place a tremendous amount of force on the spine, especially the lower back.
  1. Lighten Up on Leg Day: Weighted leg extensions are an essential machine for any serious “leg day” regimen. When executed properly, it is a great way to strengthen the quadriceps muscles in the leg. However, many people believe that more weight and reps will lead to better results. Unfortunately, the opposite can be true; excess weight and repetitions can lead to inflammation of the cartilage behind the kneecap. This inflammation results in pain known as patella-femoral pain, which can make it difficult to walk, stand from a seated position, or kneel.
  2. Avoid These Treadmill Hazards: There’s a reason to most over-utilized machine is jokingly referred to as “the dreadmill.” For many people, jogging or running on a treadmill forces them to change their gait to compensate for the narrow path or fast pace of the treadmill. When the gait is altered, the IT band and hip flexors can become strained due to muscular imbalances in the knees and hips. This excessive strain can cause inflammation of the joints in the hip as well as tendonitis or bursitis of the hip. Work up to your desired speed over the course of at least a few days and practice your form while you run.

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