A man can be seen on the floor at the gym exhausted or hurt after lifting barbells. Common workout injuries, prevention and management.Workout injuries can occur while you’re exercising at the gymat home or at the park. While working out can be fun, it can also be risky if you don’t know what you are doing or when you’re new to fitness.

As a Beginner, you need time for your body to adjust to working out. This is when it hurts and you feel like quitting. This is also when you are likely to make mistakes and hurt yourself leading to workout injuries. You need to know what you’re doing.

Working out isn’t that risky when compared to other sports like football, basketball, hiking, skiing, boxing and the likes. This doesn’t mean that you can’t hurt yourself. What it means is that workout injuries don’t occur as often as it does in other sport. This might be due to the high level of motion and contact that is required in these sports which aren’t that compulsory when working out. Usually, you don’t need to move from a point to another while lifting weights and you don’t have to come in contact with anybody. Some instances when you might need motion is Cardio exercises like running, cycling, walking e.t.c.

Common Workout Injuries include muscle pull or strain, sprained ankle, shoulder injuries, knee injuries, shin splints, tendinitis, wrist sprain or dislocation.
1. Muscle Pull/Strain

A muscle pull or commonly referred to as a muscle strain is damage or tear to a muscle and its attaching tendon.

This occurs as a result of undue pressure on muscles while lifting weights or doing other types of exercise.

There can be a bruise in the area of the muscle damages and pain as a result of irritation of the nerve endings in the area.

Common signs: Swelling, bruises or redness of the area of muscle pull/strain, pain, weakness of the muscle or tendons and inability to use the muscle at all.

Home care: If you feel like it’s nothing serious and you can handle it by yourself, that’s okay. Muscles pull/strains aren’t complicated and can be treated at home.

  • The swelling can be best managed by applying ice packs. Ice shouldn’t be applied to bare skin. A protective covering such as a towel should be used to apply the ice.
  • Maintain the strained muscle in a stretched position.
  • Protect the strained muscle from further injury. Avoid the activities that cause the strain or other activities that might hurt the strained muscle.
  • Immobilize the strained muscle by using an elastic bandage. This will compress the muscle, protect it and decrease swelling.
  • Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling.

If you think the muscle damage is significant, you can’t walk or feel severe pain, in this case, it’s better to see a doctor for better treatment.

2. Ligament Sprains

Mam with elastic bandage on his left leg can be seen sitting down. Common workout injuries, prevention and management.Sprain are damages to the ligaments. These are thick bands of cartilages that attach bones to bones e.g. the knee ligaments that connect the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone).

Sprains usually occur as a result of falling or the result of an outside force displacing the surrounding joint from its normal alignment.

The most common sprain while working out or exercising is the ankle sprain.

You could easily twist your ankle or fall down while exercising and this might tear the ligaments of your ankle causing an ankle sprain. This is also common in sports such as soccer, basketball and volleyball.

 Common signs: Joint stiffness, tenderness, swelling and redness, bruising, cold or numb feet.

Home care: Same as with muscle strains:

  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and pain
  • Immobilize the joint e.g. with an elastic bandage or check your local pharmacy for other types of joint immobilizers.
  • Protect the sprained joint from further injuries. Rest and restrict movement of the joint.
  • Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling.

Sprains and strains usually are able to heal on their own but in cases, whereby you think it is severe, see a doctor.

3. Tendinitis

This is the inflammation or irritation of a tendon. A tendon is a strong piece of tissue in the body connecting a muscle to a bone.

Several physical activities including working out can cause tendinitis.

The most common places tendinitis occur in the body are; the base of the thumb, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee and Achilles tendon.

 Common signs: Swelling, redness and pain at the site of the tendon and surrounding area, Loss of motion in the region affected.

Home care

  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling
  • Rest the injured area
  • Avoid activities that will aggravate the situation
  • Take over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs or gels e.g. Ibuprofen

If the condition doesn’t improve in a week, see a doctor.

4. Shoulder Injuries

The shoulder joint is a very delicate and well-protected joint. It is the most mobile joint of the body. It’s also joint you’re likely to use the most if you’re doing fitness. Unfortunately once this joint is damaged one, there is a greater probability of recurrence.

Common shoulder injuries are Rotator Cuff Tendinitis and Dislocated Shoulder.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

This is the swelling of the rotator cuff tendon common in sports such as baseball, tennis and swimming. It’s also common in people who lift weights.

Common signs: Tenderness in the front of the shoulder or the midpoint of the arm. Pain and stiffness when lifting weights, weakness, difficulty and pain sleeping at night.

You can try using ice packs to reduce the swelling and over the counter anti-inflammatory drug such as Ibuprofen. Limit movement and try to immobilize the region.

If in one week, there is no improvement, see a doctor.

Dislocated Shoulder

This is when your upper arm bone pops out of its socket. The shoulder joint is susceptible to dislocation. Once this occurs, a recurrence is most likely to occur.

Common signs: Weakness, intense pain, numbness and tinging near the injury. Tenderness can be felt in front of the shoulder joint as the head of the humerus is obviously out of its socket, inability to move the joint.

 Management: It is necessary to reduce a dislocated shoulder back to its normal position. This is known as a closed reduction. This can be done by someone who knows the technique to do this.

If not, immobilize, reduce movement, take over the counter pain killers and call an ambulance or go to a nearby hospital.

Surgery might be necessary in some cases. So in any case, see a doctor for proper treatment.

5. Shin Splints

This term refers to pain along the inner edge of the shinbone(tibia).

It is caused as a result of the inflammation of the muscles, tendons and bone tissue around the tibia.

They typically develop after physical activity and are commonly associated with running and people new to fitness.

Measures that can reduce the pain include:

  • Application of ice packs
  • Resting
  • Stretching
  • Over the counter pain killers

If the pain doesn’t go in a weeks time, it’s better to see your doctor to rule out other Shin problems.

6. Fractures

This is a situation whereby a bone or bones are broken. It rarely occurs while exercising. It can occur in the case of severe trauma.

Women that have reached menopause are usually more susceptible to fractures while exercising. Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 but menopause may occur earlier or later. This is because of osteoporosis i.e. a disease that weakens the bone.

The lack of estrogen in menopause has been linked to osteoporosis as a result, making the bones become softer and easy to break. A minor fall or accident may lead to fracture.

A common fracture is a hip fracture.

Likewise, low testosterone has been proven to cause osteoporosis in men.

Also, senile osteoporosis is as a result of the decrease in calcium absorption as we age.

If you happen to be in any of this group, you should be careful when exercising to avoid fractures.

Common signs: Pain, deformity of the fractured area, bruising and swelling, budging out of the broken bone, tenderness and movement, loss of function, inability to bear weight on the affected part.

 Management: In the case of fractures, it is best to see a doctor so that the correct diagnosis can be made and the best treatment administered.

Before then, you might want to immobilize the fracture, limit movement, rest and take over the counter pain killers such as Ibuprofen.

 Safety Precautions for Prevention of Workout Injuries

Safety and prevention should be your priority while working out. They will protect you from workout injuries. Some simple rules to follow

  • Don’t work out when you’re exhausted. It’s always best to workout early in the morning when you are feeling refreshed and your brain is working at 100 % or during the day.
  • Don’t overwork your muscles. Have a workout plan.
  • It’s best to work out a group of muscles or part of the body in one day and the other parts in other days.
  • Don’t carry too much load than you can handle. Start small and Increase the weights over time.
  • Understand how your muscles work.
  • Eat something before workouts or immediately after workouts.
  • Drink enough water before, during and after your workouts.
  • Do stretching exercises before and after your workouts.  This will prepare your muscles for the workouts and relax them after the workouts, preventing workout injuries.
  • Have a diet plan tailored to your goals.  Your fitness is 70% of what you eat and 30% of what you do. Eat a balanced diet and enough fruits. 
  • If you are new to fitness, you might want to have a fitness instructor to put you through at first, so you can avoid workout injuries.
  • If you feel pain or worn stop. Rest and try other exercises. If the pain continues to pay attention and try to identify the cause of the pain.

References

  1. Workout Injuries: Prevention and Treatment by WebMD
  2. Muscle Strain by WebMD
  3. Strain Vs. Sprain by verywell health
  4. What Is an Ankle Sprain by WebMD
  5. Tendinitis by WebMD
  6. Common Shoulder Injuries and Conditions by Chicago Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  7. Shin Splints by OrthoInfo
  8. Osteoporosis and Menopause by WebMD

Dr Klas

Dr Klas aka Dr Emmanuel Adeniran is a medical doctor, a health educator, and a fitness enthusiast who has been into fitness for more than five years. He is willing to share his knowledge and experience with you.

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