Common Workout Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Common Workout InjuriesBy TFM Staff

Exercising keeps you healthy and in shape. Working out regularly and staying active and strong can actually prevent illnesses and injuries. However, there are some injuries that are actually common among gym rats. Overuse, improper form, too much exercising, age, and general wear and tear can lead to injuries. Here are the most common workout injuries and tips for avoiding them.

Muscle Strain

A muscle strain (or even more serious tear) refers to damage of a muscle or the tendons that attach it to bones. Signs of a strain include redness, swelling, pain, and weakness of that particular muscle. If you have a minor strain, you may be able to treat it at home with rest, ice, and heat therapy. Anything extremely painful or lasting more than a week or so needs a doctor’s attention.  

How to Avoid It:

Doing a proper warm up and stretching after you exercise can help keep your muscles from straining.

Lower Back Pain

You slouch at your desk all day, and then hit the gym hard once 5 p.m. hits. Lower back pain can be due to muscle strain, nerve compression, or a herniated disk. It’s often caused by poor posture, bad form, or overdoing it.

How to Avoid It:

Maintaining proper form when exercising will go a long way to keep your back safe. Know how to hold a neutral spine and don’t slouch, especially when exercising. Building your core muscles will protect your spine and help you maintain good form and posture. If you work at a desk, be sure to sit up straight during the day.

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a ligament that runs from the heel to the toes and supports the arch of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is the straining or inflammation of the plantar fascia. If you have plantar fasciitis, you’ll feel pain in your heel, arch, or the bottom of your foot. The pain is often worse first thing in the morning or after a prolonged period of sitting, and lessens as you go about your day. It’s a common running injury, but can also be worsened by ill-fitting or unsupportive shoes, high arches or flat feet, or tight calf muscles.

How to Avoid It:

The best way to avoid plantar fasciitis is to wear supportive shoes, especially when working out. Stretch your calves and feet after exercising, and try to run on softer surfaces like grass or dirt. Rolling a tennis ball under your feet after a tough workout can help keep the plantar fascia stretched.

Patellofemoral Syndrome

While there are many different knee injuries, this is one of the more common ones. This condition, more commonly known as “runner’s knee,” causes pain in the front of the knee at the patella. Runner’s knee pain is at the front of the knee and usually worsens when running, walking down stairs, or sitting with bent knees for a long period of time. It’s caused by overuse, a kneecap that’s not properly aligned, or from a changing kneecap or other injury. 

How to Avoid It:

Make sure you’re wearing the proper shoes to keep your body in alignment, especially if you’re a runner. Strengthen your quadriceps (tops of your thighs), hamstrings, hips, and glutes to help protect your knees. Keeping your hip flexors and lower back limber can also help prevent a knee injury.