Getting back into shape for the New Year
January is the busiest time for the fitness industry, as millions of guilt-ridden Americans head to health clubs to try to shed the extra pounds gained over the holiday season. As a manager of a local LA fitness, my hours are increased throughout the month of January just to try and help operations run smoothly during our busiest month of the year. I love seeing all the new faces in my gym, but for the inexperienced the gym can pose unexpected hazards.
Many fitness wannabes aren’t familiar with how to use exercise machines and other equipment which can lead to sustaining head, eye, back, neck, hip, leg and ankle injuries.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer injuries every year while working out: stumbling on treadmills, falling off exercise balls, getting snapped in the face by resistance bands, dropping weights on their toes and wrenching their backs by lifting too much weight. Nearly 460,000 people went to hospital emergency rooms in 2012 for injuries related to exercise equipment. This is according to Consumer Products Safety Commission data analyzed by USA Today in 2015. Most were treated and released, but about 32,000 were hospitalized and a few were pronounced dead on arrival. (Chicago Tribune)
Tips to avoid injury at the gym
- Use a personal trainer to show you the ropes! This is actually my job. At LA Fitness, we offer a free training session to show new members how to use exercise machines. Even if you’ve already used your free session, we are always available to show you anything you have a question on. Ask me anything! That’s what I’m here for!
- Beware of treadmills. While they may seem to be basic, studies show that treadmills cause the most injuries to gym members of any other type of exercise equipment. Most people “zone out” while on the treadmill, which leads to them falling off of it. Also, some people sustain back injuries from trying to move the treadmill themselves. Persistent running on a treadmill can cause inflammation of the joints in the hip as well as tendinitis and bursitis. People alter their gait to compensate for the narrow path or fast pace of the treadmill.
- Moderate your weightlifting. Many beginners obsess over maximizing the weight they’re lifting and the number of repetitions rather than focusing on good form and sensible weight loads. Lifting too heavy will lead to improper form, which will put too much strain on your back or chest. This can lead to injury.
- Know your limitations. People who regularly push their bodies to the breaking point can do serious damage to their shoulders and joints and risk life-threatening breakdowns of their muscles. One little-known danger zone is rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which overactive, highly fatigued muscles break down and release proteins and enzymes into the bloodstream at a dangerous rate.
- Clumsiness can do you in. Just running, jumping, or lugging heavy objects such as medicine balls or kettle-bells around in a crowded gym can result in stumbling and falling. Fitness trainers and gym members alike tend to leave equipment and weights lying around. Be sure to look where you’re going when walking around the gym. Also, watch out for slippery areas such as around swimming pools and in locker rooms.
Have you noticed these gym hazards?
Just being aware of your surroundings and simply stopping to ask for help will go a long way. Take it easy especially if you’re new to working out or it’s been awhile since you’ve hit the gym.