Imagine looking at your list of workouts and feeling positively powerful because you have managed to line up a great routine; you go straight into them doing the skull-crushers and the chin ups without bothering to take a moment for some stretching. Added to this, you have limited time and so you opt for a HIIT workout and keep pushing yourself till you feel like your muscle just tore quite painfully and this is not the kind you can ignore. You have to take a seat now and you feel the pain even more. This is a classic workout injury.
It does not matter if you are a beginner or if you have been working out for a long time; workout injuries can occur when you take on an activity that you are either not ready for or are too tired for.
Some injuries you can sustain during a workout are:
Muscle strains: What happened in the short illustration above is a muscle strain. This happens as a result of overstretching or tearing of a muscle and can happen with any muscle of your body. The common parts are the neck, hamstring, shoulder and the lower part of your back.
They can either be mild, moderate or severe; the first two can receive home treatment but the third requires medical attention.
It can be caused by lack of adequate or proper warm up before the workout routine, fatigue, overexerting your muscles, a poor posture, lifting a heavy object or being in an improper position while lifting a heavy object.
Knee Ligament Injury: This refers to an injury in any of the four knee ligaments. They are:
- The anterior cruciate ligament: Also known as the ACL, this is responsible for connecting the thigh bone and the shin bone. This is the part that gets injured most of the time.
- The posterior cruciate ligament: Also known as PCL, this plays a similar role to the ACL and rarely gets injured.
- The lateral collateral ligament: Also known as LCL, this is responsible for connecting the fibula and the thigh bone.
- The medial collateral ligament: Also known as the MCL, this connects the shin bone and the thigh bone in the knee.
They can be injured by a lack of good stretching and warm up before a routine, lack of flexibility and carrying on difficult exercises before you are ready.
Ankle Sprain: Another injury that can occur during a workout is an ankle sprain. This happens when you overstretch the ligaments in your ankle or tear them. These ligaments strengthen and stabilize the ankle and excess movement can cause an injury.
It is caused by weak muscles, repetition (having it before increases the chances of having it again). It is also often seen in players of sports like basketball or soccer due to much strain and possible tearing of the ligament.
Not all ankle sprains are bad and some heal on their own. The grade 1 ankle sprain leaves you with a sore feeling and slight swelling (not yet torn); the grade 2 leaves you with a pain that lasts longer as well as swelling and a possible bruise (torn slightly); the grade 3 leaves you with severe pain. You may hear a “pop” sound and your ankle becomes unstable (totally torn).
It’s best to consult a doctor for ankle sprains for proper diagnosis.
Other injuries include shoulder injury, shin splint, tendinitis or a dislocation of the wrist.
What you can do to avoid them
- To avoid muscle strains you should have a proper warm-up before a workout and even more so during cold weather. This is because when temperatures are lower; your muscles usually become stiffer.
- Have a rest interval in between your workouts: Do not push yourself rigorously to the point of breakdown. If you want to exercise using the HIIT method, be sure to have sizable rest intervals. For example, after a 30 seconds sprint, you may rest or slow yourself into a jog for 90 seconds.
- Start your routine with stretching and a good warm up. This will alert your body of the coming exercises and prepare them.
- Be sure to cool down after the workout routine to stabilize your heart rate. For example, taking a walk after the routine is good.
- Do not stick to just one routine. If you do, you increase the strain on that part of your body which will lead to an injury. You may exercise your upper body today and move to your lower body the next day, for example.
- Make sure you check-in with your doctor before you begin a certain routine that you have noticed gives you pain when you try. Also if you have arthritis, for example in the knees, you should visit the doctor first or get a personal trainer.
- Eat healthily and regularly, and drink a good amount of water before during and after your session. You could take 8 ounces of water 20 minutes before the workout, 20 minutes into the workout and 20 minutes after for example.
- You can employ the services of a trainer to help guide your routines either as a personal trainer or as a consultant.
- Be sure to put on the proper training wear for your exercise sessions.
Injuries during a workout are can be avoided but this does not mean they cannot occur. If you happen to have an injury during any workout you can apply a first aid treatment by
- Applying an ice pack to the injured area
- Applying pressure (but don’t block the flow of blood)
- When possible, elevate the injured part
- Rest the injured part and then move it around gently and slowly to avoid the muscles becoming weak from little use.
If however, the injury is a severe one with a lot of pain, swelling and bruising like in the ones explained above, please consult a doctor for immediate treatment.