The three leading causes of acute injury in the gym are improper warm up, improper form and performing the incorrect number of exercise reps, sets and loads. As a Mesa Arizona Personal Trainer with over 18 years in the health and fitness industry, I have seen enough eye opening recklessness in the gym that would make any head spin. From a professional perspective, injury prevention in the gym seems logical and easy to learn for young and old. I’m often compelled to rescue people from their mistakes, but that would mean I would personally never get a work out completed. So I decided I would render some advice for novice gym members who are seeking a better quality workout, with understanding of injury prevention in the gym.
- The Warm Up – Injury prevention in the gym begins with your warm up. You must create soft muscle elasticity prior to shredding your muscle fibers with weight training. This can be done dynamically by simply increasing your core body temperature with a 15 minute dose of low to moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise. This can be done on a stationary bike, elliptical trainer, treadmill or upper body ergometer, Your goal is to create a warm internal body environment thus making muscle elastic and pliable. Muscle works best when warm and ligament stretch or tendonitis is minimized. This approach is simple , overall injury protection in the gym. I’m not a proponent of pre exercise stretching as I have seen too many injuries as a result. Muscles are still too cold and non pliable. I believe stretching has its place after the workout either statically or with a foam roller to facilitate myofascial release.
- Proper Form – This one is my biggest pet peeves. For the sake of the post I will only give a few examples, but keep in mind the list of potentially harmful bad form movements is very lengthy. Injury prevention in the gym cannot happen if your form is running a muck. If you’re not sure what and why you’re doing a given exercise movement, then consider hiring a qualified personal trainer to show you exactly how to do specific exercises. A qualified personal trainer will also determine which exercises are not appropriate for your physique and your specific goals. A classic example of a poorly executed exercise is the simple bicep curl. This exercise is meant to be done with a neutral spine posture and full range of motion of the elbow joints. Exaggerated movement of the upper body compromises spine stability and you risk avulsing or rupturing of intervertebral discs. Moreover, incomplete extension of the arms at the elbow joint overloads epicondylar ligaments which will eventually rupture. The end result of epicondylar ligament rapture is chronic elbow pain similar to golfers or tennis elbow.
- Choosing the Correct Exercise – Be sensible in understanding your long term goal. Let it be weight loss, sports conditioning or rehabilitation. Most exercises are designed to create micro tears in muscle fibers, then its your responsibility to properly feed and rest them so they can change for the better. As a women your emphasis should be on legs and core for weight loss and appeal. Going heavy with weights is not the fast track to slimming down. For a man your program design is a bit different if you’re looking at growth versus weight loss. It’s important that you understand not only the exercise, but the number of repetitions and sets required to condition a particular muscle group. Men and women have diverse hormones and weight training does impact the ebb and flow of these hormones. As my mentor always said. ” There is a way you trainer Tarzan and a way you train Jane” Yes, there are a plethora of machine and body weight exercises that you can do in the gym. However, if you fail to select the proper exercise, weight load, number of repetitions and sets, then you will set yourself up for goal failure and injury prevention in the gym will be sidelined.
It is important to recognize that we all have our strength and weaknesses and given that only 3% of Americans workout out 2 hours or more a week, I think it’s fair to say that there are a lot of “wanna be exercisers” who know very little about a very scientific method of changing both the internal and external physiology of the human body through formal exercise, nutrition and lifestyle changes. In perspective, I don’t profess to be an accountant and very few people are. However, I have no problem hiring both a corporate and personal accountant to sort out my finances. The same applies to those interested in achieving a specific fitness goal. Take your questions to the experts and learn from their wisdom. Taking care of the human body through diet and exercise is a life long commitment. I believe we all deserve proper knowledge in our quill in order to achieve personal goals, regardless of cost and time commitments.
Rivak Hoffman is a nationally certified personal trainer and medical exercise specialist living in Mesa Arizona. He is the president of Every Bit Fit Arizona. With over 18 years experience in both the medical and fitness industry he provides individuals with solutions for weight loss, rehabilitation and sports conditioning. For more information about Rivak and Every Bit Fit Arizona go to www.everybitfitaz.com