It doesn’t matter whether you are training for improved sports performance, better health or simply to look better on the beach, exercise comes with certain risks attached. Exercise is a form of stress and while that stress is usually beneficial because it triggers positive adaptations, such as increased strength, it’s all too easy to push the envelope just a little too far and end up injured.

 

Unfortunately, call it Murphy’s Law, sometimes injuries just happen; it’s just your turn. However, there are several dos and don’ts that you should take into consideration if you want to stack the odds in your favour and minimize your risk of injury...

 

Don’t forget to warm up properly

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onNov 21, 2017 at 1:57pm PST

A good warm up will prepare your body and mind for the coming workout. Your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments need to be prepared for the stress you are about to expose them to. Warm ups should be tailored to the training session you are about to do; there is no point doing 20-minutes on the stationary bike if you are doing heavy bench presses. In fact, the cardio element of your warm up should merely serve to get your blood pumping and elevate your body temperature – five minutes is plenty.



The rest of your warm up should be focused on joint mobility and dynamic flexibility plus any additional movement preparation work you deem necessary. Finally, don’t forget to ramp up to your top work sets – in weight or intensity – to give yourself some technique practice and fire up your nervous system.


Do use spotters

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onNov 18, 2017 at 3:40pm PST

If you are lifting weights then, in most cases, you should work out with spotters close to hand. Too many gym injuries are the result of a momentary lapse in concentration or failure to complete a repetition. If you are using maximal weights, spotters are even more crucial. It’s no fun getting pinned under the bar while bench pressing or squatting and skull crushers have that name for a reason! Use spotters on your top sets or when you are approaching momentary muscular failure.


Do use the best form possible

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onNov 15, 2017 at 2:28pm PST

There are two ways to do every exercise – the right way and the wrong way. The right way places stress on the target muscle and minimizes your risk of injury while the wrong way usually makes the exercise less effective and significantly increases your risk of harm.


If you are unable to perform an exercise using proper form, you may be using too much weight or simply not built to do that exercise properly. Become a good form robot and always perform your exercises using the best possible technique.


Don’t run before you can walk

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onNov 13, 2017 at 7:06pm PST

If you are new to exercise, don’t be tempted to throw yourself into the deep end and follow an advanced workout routine too soon. Before you unleash your inner beast and jump into an advanced workout, you need to pay your dues with beginner and intermediate workouts.


If you can’t do a decent press-up, it’s unlikely you are ready for bench presses and if you can’t do a good bodyweight squat, plyometric (jumping) exercises will undoubtedly offer more risks than benefits. Be patient, increase the volume, intensity and difficulty of your workouts gradually and you will significantly decrease your risk of injury.


Do listen to your body

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onNov 12, 2017 at 7:00pm PST

While many injuries come on suddenly, some injuries are chronic and come on gradually – usually because you have ignored and worked through a minor injury rather than seek treatment or rest. If, while warming up, you feel localized or general pain, don’t ignore these symptoms but act to ensure things don’t get any worse.



Sore shoulders? Go easy on the bench press today. Achy lower back? Maybe skip today’s heavy deadlifts. Knees feeling creaky? Some extra warm up sets before you hit your heavy squats. Pay attention to the signals your body is sending you and then act on them. Better to lose a day or two through being extra cautious than a month or two because of an otherwise avoidable serious injury.


Do look after your shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onNov 6, 2017 at 6:21pm PST

While exercise tends to target muscles, it’s your joints that bear the brunt of the load. Knees, hips, shoulders and elbows are amazingly strong structures but can still be injured – in particular through overuse or poor exercise technique.


Dive-bombing into deep squat, bouncing out of the bottom of bench presses, doing barbell presses behind the neck and overextending your elbows in dips can all damage your joints. Unlike muscles, joints take a very long time to heal; if they even heal at all. Always consider the long-term health of your joints.


Do use a power rack

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onAug 28, 2017 at 4:52pm PDT

Heavy squats and bench presses are the cornerstone of many people’s strength building workouts. The compound nature of these exercises means that huge weights can be lifted. The presence of a spotter or two will reduce your risk somewhat but spotters are only human and mistakes can happen.


If you are lifting serious weight, consider doing your lifting in a power rack, sometimes called a power cage. Adjustable horizontal rods prevent the downward travel of the bar to ensure you can’t be crushed by a heavy weight. A power rack is not the same as a Smith machine – a device that ensures your barbell only travels vertically. Smith machines, for reasons too complicated to discuss here, are common injury culprits.


Get expert coaching

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onAug 14, 2017 at 5:38am PDT

Seek out expert advice on how to correctly perform the exercises in your workout. More and more trainers are prescribing increasingly complex workouts consisting of power cleans, snatches, and other highly technical exercises. However, many of these trainers are unable to teach these exercises effectively, don’t know what constitutes proper technique and are even less able to correct technique problems. If you want to learn highly technical exercises such as muscle-ups and squat cleans, go to an experienced coach rather than someone who has done a two-day basic introductory course.


Being injured is no one’s idea of fun and injuries that are otherwise avoidable are even more distressing. Don’t fall foul of preventable injuries – train hard but also train smart and if you are unlucky enough to suffer an injury, stop what you are doing and seek medical advice – that way, you’ll hopefully only miss a few days of training rather than several months.



Feeling sore after your last workout? Beyond BCAA will help replenish your tired muscles, so you can come back even stronger for your next session!