You are working out – fantastic! But … watch out for these injuries.
After treating patients for almost a decade in health clubs I have noticed certain injuries are more common to those who work out. Here are the top three most common injuries I treat and how to prevent:
(1) Rotator Cuff
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that attach to your scapula (shoulder blade) and allow you to do such motions as combing your hair or throwing a ball. The cuff is commonly injured by overhead presses and lateral shoulder raises. Pain is usually felt around the shoulder at the front of the arm. Applying ice packs to the area can be very helpful. Also – avoiding overhead exercises until the pain diminishes. Hands on techniques such as muscle release therapy are critical for decreasing or removing scar tissue and enhancing mobility. Once the pain has diminished strengthening the rotator cuff will decrease your likelihood of future problems. Here is one exercise to add in 2x/week for 3 sets of 10 reps with a light weight:
(2) Low Back
Most injuries to the low back are rooted in poor posture and lifting techniques outside of the gym. Sitting at a computer for 8hrs/day is a big contributor as well as poor sitting posture on the train, car, or couch. Commonly someone will be doing squats, deadlifts or ab exercises when they feel a ‘tweak’ in their back. In most cases it was the repeated ‘microtrauma’ over many years that put them at more risk of back injury. The exercise simply pushed them over the edge into an injured state.
To prevent back injuries from happening in the first place practice good exercise technique (seek out an expert) and try to improve posture when sitting, standing, lifting and walking.
Treatment of back injuries is dependent on what physical structure is injured. One injury like a muscle strain may be treated differently than a disc injury or joint irritation. The best advice is to seek out a chiropractor (back specialist) to and get diagnosed and treated. After the pain has subsided core strengthening exercises should be done to decrease further injury incidence:
Many gym members who like running for cardio end up with knee pain. There are many factors involved including flat feet or faulty foot mechanics, training too much too soon, running on hard surfaces like cement (sidewalks), muscle imbalances, and inadequate stretching or warm-ups. Most commonly runners end up with pain on the outside, below, or under the kneecap (patella). The most common diagnosis is patello-femoral syndrome (aka PFS or runner’s knee). Usually this is a result of muscle imbalances or poor mechanics altering the position of the patella. When the patella is mal-tracking it puts extra stress on structures like tendons. Another common diagnosis is Iliotibial Band (ITB) Friction Syndrome. ITB tightness causes pain along the outside of the thigh right down to the knee.
Both conditions can be avoided through a combination of stretching, strengthening, custom orthotics when indicated, proper shoe choices, and training plans. A health professional who has ample experience treating runners can instruct you on all these factors. Manual therapy, as mentioned above, like muscle release works wonders for tight, aggravated muscles. Again ice packs are beneficial in reducing inflammation. The following video has advice specifically for runners looking to avoid injury:
Follow these tips and you’ll spend more time building the body up rather than breaking it down!
This post is also featured on The GoodLife Blog.