How to practise safety in the gym
Most of us go to the gym to get fitter and make our bodies stronger and more efficient. So, when we find ourselves getting injured during our quest for fitness, it can be more than a little bit irritating. By following a few tips, however, we can look after our safety in the gym and learn how to prevent injuries during a workout.
How to prevent injuries during a workout
People can hurt themselves in all sorts of ways when using the gym. Some common examples include muscle strains, sprained ankles, shoulder injuries and damage to the knees. Many, if not all can be prevented with preparation, training and respecting the equipment, your body and other people. Here are ten ideas to help you protect your own safety in the gym.
1. The grand tour
A great many gym injuries happen when someone doesn’t know how to use a piece of equipment properly. So, when you first join a gym, always take the offer of a tour and demonstration of equipment. Especially anything that is unfamiliar to you. You can ask for a reminder at any point too, to ensure your safety in the gym at all times.
2. Warm-up, cool down
Avoid muscle strains and tendons on juries by taking the time to warm up and cool down properly on either side of a gym training session. This allows your body to ease into the activity, rather than suddenly being thrust into it. A warmed-up body will be less prone to injury and the cool-down period afterwards can help relieve some of the aches and pains after a hard session.
3. Build up gradually
Everyone has to start somewhere, so work out what you are comfortable doing to begin with and go from there. You can build up the intensity slowly to help prevent injuries in the gym. If you are unsure how to train and build things up, book a session or two with a personal trainer to show you the ropes.
4. Listen to your body
Never exercise if you are feeling sick, unwell or unusually fatigued. If you find that you are not responding as well to a training session as you normally do, ease off a bit and allow yourself time to rest. Learning how to react to your body’s cues about its own wellbeing is an integral part of safety in the gym and avoiding injury
5. Train for you, not your neighbour
It can be all too easy to be distracted, impressed or intimidated (delete as applicable) by the person working out next to you. Don’t judge your own progress by theirs, or indeed anyone else’s. Go at your pace and have your own goals in mind to keep yourself motivated. Try to avoid eye contact with anyone else if you think it is going to put you off your stride.
6. Drink plenty of water
Dehydration can cause the body harm in several different ways and weaken the joints, causing injuries to happen. Always carry a water bottle with you to the gym and drink regularly to keep fluids up. This is especially important in hotter weather, where overheating can pose a serious health risk. You may like to consider specialist drinks that replace electrolytes if you are training for something tougher, such as a triathlon or long-distance marathon.
7. Get the right gear
This is very important and is more than about choosing the trendiest brands. Choose well-fitting clothing that is breathable and allows you to move freely. Have your feet measured for running shoes or trainers. Many specialist shops will carry out tests that look at your gait and the shape of your foot to ensure the best match. Replace gym shoes regularly to ensure your feet are properly cushioned and supported.
8. Figure out your form
Another common source of gym injuries is doing an activity or exercise in the wrong way, twisting your limbs incorrectly or pushing beyond your body’s capabilities. While an element of aching muscles after a good session tells you that you have worked hard, you shouldn’t feel pain or excess discomfort while working out. If something starts to hurt when you do a movement or lift a weight, stop straight away. If you are unsure about form, ask a coach or trainer to show you the correct method.
9. Watch the weather
Slow down, or stop altogether when the temperature rises too high. If the sun is blazing and you are really keen to train, do so in the early morning or evening when the weather will be cooler. Take lots of water with you. Watch for signs of overdoing it such as headaches, dizziness or sickness and stop straight away. Conversely, if the weather is cold, dress in layers that you can shed as you warm up. Wear gloves to protect your hands and fingers.
10. Muscle matters
Finally, learn to listen to how your muscles feel after a workout. This is another important part of safety in the gym. As already mentioned, post-exercise aching muscles are not necessarily a bad thing. However, watch for signs of gym injuries such as the ache getting worse, turning into a sharper pain or not subsiding after a while. Consult a doctor if concerned.