They say that exercise is addicting and, well, they are right. The more routine you make it, the more addicting it is. But exercising is also a major pain in the gluteus. If you don’t believe me then do some weighted hip lifts. I think we can all agree that exercising is good for us, right? However there is one downside to it that very few (if anyone) are ever completely exempt from and that is injury. This post isn’t to put you off of exercising but rather to make you aware that just like anything else, exercising can be dangerous.
Threat of Injury
An injury can come in any form. It can be as simple as a sprained ankle or as terrible as a torn ligament. Now I’m no expert, so please don’t take me as one, but I can say that in my experience injury came whenever I was tired, pushing myself too much, or doing something improperly. My first injury came from the last one. I was in pointe class and leaned too far left while executing a développé, plus my ankle was sickled. I ended up falling and landed on my ankle. I thought I had sprained it. Two weeks later I learned that I had badly torn the ligament in my foot. There was even talk of surgery. Thankfully it didn’t get that far and my ligament healed just fine in a boot. It still sucked because I was out for the rest of the dance season. A year later, I re-injured it (but not as badly) when I twisted my ankle while walking on a bridge in heels.
That’s the other problem with injuries: they heal but they’re susceptible to re-injury for at least another year. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
According to multiple sources, the most common injuries are: sprains, knee injuries, pulled or strained muscles, back or shoulder injuries, shin splints, tendinitis, and wrist dislocation. Looking at this list you might be wondering why you should even attempt to workout if there’s so much threat. As one who has sustained multiple injuries, I assure you exercising can be worth it and every setback can have a comeback, some might just be slower than others.
Injury isn’t a respecter of persons, either. You can be fresh into your workout journey or years into it and still get injured either way. Now I know that statistics don’t always show all the information, but in a quick google search I found one statistic reporting that about 56% of physically active people reported sustaining an exercise-related injury.(National Library of Medicine) Now this study was published in 2013 and numbers could have changed since then. According to the Insurance Information Institute (iii.org), injuries due to exercise or exercise equipment in 2021 were around 409,224. You can visit the website linked to see their total numbers and the breakdown due to age groups.
These links do take you to other websites but I am in no way or form associated with them. I have only provided them for further reading and to avoid plagiarism. Always state your sources, people.
Tips for Preventing Injury
Again, I am not an expert on this (I feel like I repeat this every single time.) However, I do know a thing or two and what I don’t know, the internet might.
Warm Up: This is number one on just about every list. Warming up is an essential part to working out because it preps your body for the actual work. You don’t want to go in with a cold body. Remember, they place dead bodies on ice. Same goes for muscles. A cold muscle…well it isn’t a dead muscle but if it’s cold before exercising then it hasn’t received the proper warmth and oxygen needed to healthily and safely workout. A cold muscle will not stretch as far as a warm one. As you get further into your exercise journey, you will come to know your body better and eventually you can decide how long of a warm-up you need. Some people need five minutes and some people need fifteen. Either way, warming up is essential.
Know how to Properly Execute Something: This might not be number two on most lists, but it is on mine. The more you know, the safer you’ll be, right? Knowing how to properly execute a move–whether it be a push-up, downward-dog, or a lateral pull-down–will go a long way to saving you a potential injury. If you’re unsure about whatever you’re trying, ask someone! I don’t care if you’ve been going to the gym for fifty years or five minutes, if you are attempting something new or something you haven’t done in a while, ask for some help. They have trainers at the gym and some of them (hopefully all of them) won’t mind helping you out on a few things. If you want to make a habit of it, hire them to help you. That’s what they’re there for.
If you’re at home, there are plenty of youtube videos and other information online to help you. If that’s not good enough, get a day pass to a gym with a trainer and have a session with them. However you do it, make sure you are doing it correctly!
Check Your Alignment: This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip, but it’s just as important. You know those really cool yoga balance poses you see all over the internet? Or even just a headstand? The people who execute those would not be able to do so if they weren’t in proper alignment.
Proper alignment means proper placement (obviously). With everything in alignment and properly placed, you are less likely to injure yourself over something simple. I injured my neck and shoulder doing a push-up. Why? Because I wasn’t in proper alignment.
Proper alignment also ensures you have proper balance. You are less likely to fall if you keep your core engaged and are properly aligned while exercising. (You can check out my post about properly engaging your core here.)
Know Your Limits: Are you too tired? Can you only lift three pounds instead of five? Do you really need to workout five days a week?
These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself and as always, you need to be realistic. Maybe on a normal day you could do that extra rep, but if you’re too tired then it is better to say, “I’m good for today,” instead of pushing forward and possibly injuring yourself.
Be realistic about where you are in your workout journey. This one can be hard, especially if you’re working on a comeback, but I wouldn’t include it if it wasn’t important. Being realistic about where you are gives you a clearer view of what you can do and where you are going. Yeah, it sucks to use the three pound instead of the five or eight, but that doesn’t make it ineffectual. It simply keeps you in the game longer.
Some days it can be hard to sit still or only do a minimal stretching workout. However, giving your body time to properly rest is just as important as every other step. It’s in the resting that the rebuilding comes. If you don’t rest, you just tax your body more and more until it gives out and forces you to rest. It’s as simple as that. So yeah, it might be hard to take a day or two off from exercising, but your body, and your workout journey, will ultimately thank you.
Know your limits and work within those limits. Don’t get too comfortable, though, because eventually you will need to push a little bit. I’m not trying to counter myself, here, I promise. It’s good to know your limits and when it gets too easy, take the next step.
Cool-down: Just as important as warming up is cooling down. It allows your body to readjust to your normal, slower pace without stressing it out.
It also allows you to take inventory of your body after a workout. Where do you already feel the strain? Are there any areas that feel more worked on than others? What did you not get to that you wanted to?
Cooling-down will also help with next day soreness. It could be the difference between that feel-good pain and the oh-no-I-can’t-move pain.
I hope this post helps you with being more aware of the dangers of exercising. Like I said, I definitely do not want to put you off of it, but everyone needs to be informed of what they’re getting into. If you do find yourself injured, know that it isn’t the end. Take your time and let your body recover. If you listen to your body and take your time, your comeback won’t turn into another setback.
Have you ever injured yourself exercising?
What did you do to recover and what are some tips you’d give to help prevent the injury again? Let me know in the comments below!