See which are the most common injuries we see and the simple things you can do to avoid them.
Common injuries as a result of training
Back pain from spinal joint sprains and strains
There are hundreds of joints extending from your neck to tailbone and rib cage. Movements during training that overstretch or overload joints can cause joint sprains and strains. These are common and can range from the mild irritation to debilitating pain. Most patients can make a complete recovery from most these when treated. Untreated they could remain problematic for long periods or become areas of reoccurring injury and pain.
Pelvic (Sacroiliac) joint sprain and strain
Like spinal joints, the two large joints either side of your tail bone in your pelvis can be sprained or strained during training. The job of the sacroiliac joints can be very complex. They must bear weight and control movement at the same time.
Overuse injuries and tendonitis
As the name implies overuse and repetitive movements can cause injury almost any tendon. Repetitive use causes rubbing and irritation that can cause inflammation. In some cases this leads to bursitis which can easily become chronic. Tendonitis with bursitis almost always requires rest and treatment or rehabilitation.
Shoulder sprains and strains
The shoulder has a large range of motion but it generally not a very stable joint. This large range of motion makes it susceptible to chronic muscle strains, tendonitis’s, bursitis. These conditions in this area can often become chronic and can be difficult to manage.
These are a common traumatic sports injury. Rolling an ankle can be just bad luck but ankles need specific rehabilitation. Bad sprains can leave ankles week and susceptible to re-injury with simple activities. Many ankle strains over a period of time need specialized rehab.
Groin and hamstring strains
Are common sports complains and can often be the result of problems with form and technique. Tight and inflexible muscles, improper warm up can also be the cause. Overloaded weights training are another way these strains can occur.
Poor techniques, physical trauma and overstrain of muscles around the knee can lead to many different knee injuries. Some such as patella (knee cap) tracking disorders can respond well to rehabilitation. More severe knee injuries sometimes need surgery and extensive rehabilitation to return to exercise. Knee injuries need thorough examination and investigation to be property diagnosed and treated.
So to avoid many of these common injuries we have put together a list of our top tips for avoiding injury
Get professional advice
This is all about GOOD TECHNIQUE and knowing your body! As an Osteopath I have an excellent understanding of biomechanics – which is how your body moves. It is easy for an Osteopath to asses your movement and recommend what exercises are or maybe are not suitable for you to do and what are good alternatives. This combined with a trainer can put you in a good position to train in the safest way possible way. This is when you can gain great results from your training with less chance or getting injured. Knowing any limitations from previous injuries and concentrating on posture, technique and form. Getting advice from trainers no matter what your level is really important. Not only will this knowledge decrease your risk of injury but it also help you to simply focus on your training and getting results without getting injuries. As you increase distance or weight you should also always be striving for improvement in technique. Download your guide to Osteopathy for people who lift here
Don’t do too much too fast.
Most of the time training is challenging yourself and pushing yourself harder. No matter what the challenge you need to allow your body time to get used to new movements or increased demand. Building things up steadily will always give you the best chance of avoiding injury. People become disheartened when they don’t see results from training sessions quickly You would think this is most common to beginners but that is not always true. Sometimes more experienced exercisers misjudge where they are with strength and fitness. I often see very fit people underestimating the core strength required to get them to the next level in their training. Too much weight or distance too quickly can set you back severely. Overtraining and not allowing the body adequate rest periods can exhaust the body. Draining the body’s energy and not allowing time to recover and repair after can set you up for injury.
Most people are guilty of not doing this one at some point. Warm up exercises are usually done with the aim of increasing the blood flow to the muscles. The increased blood flow makes them more “pliable” and adaptable to exercise without injury. Warm up exercises are generally high-rep, low-intensity – a light jog, cycle etc. Lifting weights without a warm up is putting you at a much higher risk of injury no matter how fit you are.
Don’t ignore pain
If it hurts, STOP! Pushing through pain (especially sharp or pain you have not had before) is not good. Pushing through fatigue for resistance training is how you progress. After an intense weights session a stretch or a foam roller can ease minor soft tissue strains. A good trainer can help you identify the difference between pushing yourself to the next level and pain due to tissues being injured. I often see patients who have been pushing through the pain not realising the damage they are doing. Continuing training with tendon injuries can cause tendonitis that can be difficult to rehabilitate. It is a similar story for stress fractures. Often the body has been trying to tell them for quite sometime that it cannot deal with the loads being applied. These injuries are far more common than people realise. If identified early they have much better outcomes.
Ok so there’s lots of different schools of thought on this one. One minute it’s essential before and after all exercise. Next minute a researcher will claim there are no beneficial outcomes. What I do know from years of treating injuries is that not stretching at all will not help your performance. Not Stretching at all will probably put you at a much greater risk of hurting yourself. Properly performed, a stretch helps to elongate, increase circulation and warm up a muscle. Warmed up muscles are more pliable and ‘alert’. in my experience this makes it far more injury-resistant. Post exercise muscle soreness is reported less when muscles are stretched after a workout. Yep I’ve come across body builders that don’t stretch ….. like ever!! I often find not only do they have injuries but they can be very unbalanced with their strength and flexibility. They may be able to lift very heavy weights but some simple activities can easily cause strain in them. In my experience, the best performing bodies have a perfect combination of strength and flexibility. These bodies tend to recover well from injuries.
Ive seen countless people wanting to lose weight who consume too little or the wrong type of food. They continue to try to train hard and frequently. This is a great way to get injured. If you want to perform better or gain muscle bulk diet is important. Getting advice from a sports nutritionalist on what to eat is worthwhile. You need to provide your body with the best fuel possible if you want it to perform well. If you are doing resistance training you need to ‘feed’ your muscles. Optimal nutrition can feed your muscles and help them recover from a work-out. Read our article on how to stick to your fitness goals when you are injured Get the right advice from the beginning. Have a team around you to know exactly what your body can (and probably should not) do and how to do it correctly. At the first sign of injury get it assessed and treated. Follow the proper management from the beginning to avoid injuries setting you back.
My Big, Fat Disclaimer
There is no way I can know if this applies to you and your specific situation. How could I? I don’t know who you are … what your medical history is … what you do…. or how you use your body. This post, therefore, is in NO WAY a substitute for thorough diagnosis and assessment by a qualified health professional. If you’ve got pain then it’s my responsibility to recommend that you consult with a professional who is qualified to diagnose and treat pain … and someone, preferably, who knows and understands how you like to exercise and won’t just tell you to ‘stop it’ … especially when you might just be able to use it to get better!
When it comes to resistance training there are 5 kings of exercise
These are your basic resistance exercises which progress from beginner though to advanced. Each one done properly will give you strength and conditioning in the targeted area. As an Osteopath I treat people with training injuries on a daily basis. I have a background in exercise prescription and rehabilitation. I have treated beginners, professional athletes, triathletes, crossfit and functional training junkies. No matter what the level certain injuries crop up time-and-time again. Certain exercises like squats and deadlifts when not done properly are common culprits.
This article will give you a greater understanding of squats and deadlifts. It will give you important tips on how to remain injury free. It’s one thing to read about form and technique, but to do it and feel it, is often quite difficult. You should have a health professional or a qualified trainer, guide you through the exercise.
It’s also important to remember not every person is the same. There are many people I have treated who just should not do standard squats or deadlifts. It doesn’t mean they can’t train, it means they may need to modify the exercise. In some cases it just means assessing treating an individuals biomechanical dysfunction or prescribing stretches etc. These things can help them perform these exercises without causing injury. Without knowing it, some people are ‘ripe’ to injure themselves with these exercises due to pre-existing conditions or previous injuries. An assessment of your body can help to identify this pretty quickly and work towards a solution. Check out our article on how to keep your fitness goals when injured
We all know movement and exercise helps to keep us fit and healthy and keep pain and injury at bay. When done correctly, simple squats are a great exercise for most people. If done incorrectly, they can have the potential to cause or provoke injury which we have seen many times! For most fit and healthy people, squats are a great all-round exercise. Squats can work many major muscle groups including your core muscles and generally benefit a lot of people. You don’t have to be young, super fit or already have strength to do them. They can pretty much be done anywhere without too much fancy equipment. So what are the benefits of doing squats?
SQUATS CAN STRENGTHEN AND TONE YOUR LEGS Squats use your quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, which helps to tone and strengthen the legs. Moving slowly through the squat can make it a much more intense and effective exercise. SQUATS CAN GIVE YOU A BETTER BUTT (AND WHO DOESN’T WANT THAT!) Doing squats gives the glutes a good workout, helping to strengthen and tighten your glute muscles. SQUATS CAN GIVE YOU A TOTAL BODY WORKOUT Doing squats with weights in your hands will engage the muscles of the upper body giving you a full body workout in one exercise. SQUATS CAN STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE When done correctly, squats can engage your core muscles. Abdominal and back muscles are needed to keep balance during the movement. SQUATS CAN IMPROVE YOUR BALANCE AND CO-ORDINATION By strengthening muscles and core muscle activation, you may wobble at first …. but the more you practice the better you’ll get SQUATS CAN INCREASE AND MAINTAIN BONE DENSITY weight bearing exercises are excellent and increasing and maintaining bone density INCREASES FLEXIBILITY When done properly, squats increases joint flexibility in the ankles, knees, hips and lower back are all being used. SOME PEOPLE ARE NOT WELL SUITED TO THIS EXERCISE Generally squats work legs, glutes and back. People with history of disc bulges, back injuries or have a biomechanical dysfunction in this area can be setting themselves up for injury when doing this exercise. Even if they have good technique, some people are at a mechanical disadvantage. Previous or ongoing ankle and knee injuries can also become problematic. Most people should be assessed to make sure that the exercise is actually suitable for them. Some people (few) simply should not do them at all. Some might just need some ‘tuning-up’ of their body or biomechanics so that they can do them without provoking injury. While others will need a health professional, like an Osteopath, to help design a modified or alternate exercise that will yield the results without the injury. Each person and each body is unique and individual SO WHAT ARE THE TIPS FOR DOING A PERFECT SQUAT SO I DON’T HURT MYSELF? It’s especially important to maintain good technique doing squats especially when using weights. Always follow the steps below. Ask your Osteopath if squats are something that you may benefit from. Ask them to go through the movement with you to make sure you are doing them correctly. Seek their advice on if, when and how much weight to add to doing squats to get the best outcomes for you. Doing squats in-front of a mirror can be especially useful to keep and eye on your technique. Here are the basic tips for good squats.
Stand with your feet hip width apart.
Tighten and engage your abdominal muscles.
Lower your body dropping your bottom and bending your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keep the motion slow and steady.
Stop when your legs are parallel with the ground.
Stay in this position for a few seconds.
Now slowly press back up keeping your feet flat on the floor.
Repeat the exercise for a total of 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Be sure to rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
Once you have good form doing squats (with no shaky wobble), you can increase the difficulty and effectiveness of the exercise by doing it with weights. Weights in each hand at shoulder level or use a bar across your shoulders, (‘smith machine’). You can also just hold one weight (with both hands) or a medicine ball in front of you while you do the squat.
OK so on to deadlifts!
Poor performance on a deadlift with weights can seriously hurt your back! Deadlifts work legs, back and abs. Again there are some people who are just not well suited to this exercise. Some people really need assessment of their back to determine the safest way to train to achieve the results that they are after Deadlifts are done by pulling the weight off of the floor and then standing with your legs straight and your shoulders back. Its important to keep your back straight during this exercise. Keeping you back straight helps to avoid excessive load coming through the spine. When you lift the idea is to “sit back”, keeping your butt low towards the floor and push from your heels through your legs. When you are bringing the weight back down the idea is to keep your thighs parallel to the floor and your knees over your feet.
How to do them
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead. Use no weight on the bar until you have the form perfect.
With knees slightly bent and hands holding the bar outside of legs, bend forward from hips. (not your back – keep this straight or flat
Keeping the bar close to the body, breath out as you push through your legs straightening them. Make sure you push through the heels and not your toes
Bring the weight up past knees and straighten the hips while squeezing your glutes. Your pelvis should be in a neutral position (ie not tipping forward or back)
Keeping your back straight slowly bend forward from the hips.Allow your knees to bend a little at the same time and lower the bar back to the ground.
7 Keep your core abdominal muscles engaged throughout the exercise to protect your spine
Too much weight.
Often if the weight is too heavy you will ‘round’ your back and this is the danger zone where you are really prone to a serious injury
Doing too much with arms
Strength should be coming from your legs not lifting with your arms. Push hard through your legs to lift the weight. Shoulders and hips should be moving together. If not you can be using your lower back too much and risking injury
Feet not staying flat on the floor.
Again too much weight and bad form will set you up for a lower back injury.
Looking up and straining your neck
Try to keep your spine all the way through as neutral as possible
Smooth movement up and down is important. Jerky movement probably means you are lifting more weight than your can handle and you need to drop it back a bit before you injure yourself
Even the most experienced lifters have probably been here. Many people underestimate how long it takes to progress to the next level and increase weight. Speed of progression will slow with more weight added. Form and core strength become more and more important. This is particularly dangerous when getting into heavy weights which will be very unforgiving.
Both exercises will give you big returns, but are both high risk if you are not suited to them or you don’t do them correctly. The more weight you lift the higher the return but the higher the risk. The heaver the weight the more every single element (technique, general strength to your own specific biomechanics) becomes important.
My Big, Fat Disclaimer
There is no way I can know if this applies to you and your specific situation. How could I? I don’t know who you are … what your medical history is … what you do…. squats or deadlifts … or how you use your body. This post, therefore, is in NO WAY a substitute for thorough diagnosis and assessment by a qualified health professional. If you’ve got pain then it’s my responsibility to recommend that you consult with a professional who is qualified to diagnose and treat pain … and someone, preferably, who knows and understands how you like to exercise and won’t just tell you to ‘stop it’ … especially when you might just be able to use it to get better! For more information you may also like to check out our aticle on other common training injuries and how to avoid them