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How To Prevent Common Gym Injuries

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Today’s fitness clubs, cycle studios, Pilates classes and yoga centers (to name a few) have become our modern day gymnasiums.  Molding our bodies into shape, they serve as a refuge from the stress of our daily lives.  However, they can also be minefields filled with dead weights, one-ton workout machines, pulleys, steel wires, wet floors and bacteria-filled mats.

Thousands of people are hurt each year in gyms and exercise classes all across the country.  Many injuries result from the negligent management and poorly maintained equipment.

In 2008, 45.5 million Americans owned gym memberships according to an industry journal.

In 2009, 1,500 people were treated in emergency rooms after being injured on equipment at gyms.

In 2012, an estimated 459,978 people were injured while exercising or using exercise equipment – about 32,000 were hospitalized or were dead on arrival according to data collected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Common Risks to Watch Out For

1.  Malfunctioning equipment. Regardless of how good your form is when working out, you may be at risk for injury if the equipment at your gym is old, defective and/or not regularly maintained. Machines may be used by hundreds of members each day, so they can deteriorate and malfunction quickly. Gym staff should regularly inspect machines for damage and to prevent potential upcoming failures.

You can reduce your chances of being hurt by dangerous equipment by alerting staff when something appears amiss. If you notice anything suspicious on a machine you are using—such as frayed wires or loose parts—stop working out immediately and report it.

2.  Weightlifting machines. Even when they are functioning perfectly, not all machines are safe to use; especially, if you are not familiar with the equipment, and have not been properly instructed on how to use it.  Many machines commonly featured at gyms should be avoided entirely, according to many health professionals.

3.  You should refrain from using cable pull-downs, which can damage your upper spine. Avoid seated crunch machines, machine abductors, and abdominal rotation machines, as this type of equipment can hurt your lower back. If you have any health or physical problems, consult a staff member before using any weightlifting machines.  Your knowledge of the proper use of any machine is of the utmost importance

4.  High-intensity classes. Classes like CrossFit and boot camp are popular, but can put you at risk for serious injury if you aren’t at peak physical fitness. While trying to keep up with the trainer, many exhausted students forget to use proper form, hurt themselves and forget to keep hydrated.

Take a class that is suited to your level of fitness—you’ll end up getting a better workout while reducing your chances of damaging your neck, back, and shoulders. If you want to take higher intensity classes, be sure to prepare for them by getting into shape on your own beforehand. When participating in such classes, stop immediately if something feels wrong. Everyone has different limitations, and it’s much better to admit you are not able to execute a move than risk injury.  Let your ego go!

5.  Infections. Bacteria breeds quickly on shared equipment like cardio equipment, weights, and yoga mats. Locker rooms can be particularly hospitable breeding grounds for germs and bacteria that cause athlete’s foot, warts, and brittle nails.

To guard yourself from infection, always wipe down communal equipment both before and after use. Wear flip-flops in the shower, pool, and locker room areas—never walk around barefoot. Do not use a towel that has touched the floor, as this could transfer harmful bacteria to your body.

6.  Tripping and falling. As you run, jump, and carry objects around a crowded workout area, you are at risk for stumbling and falling. Equally risky are slippery areas, such as pools and locker rooms.

Protect yourself from trip-and-fall accidents by always being aware of tripping hazards like free weights and gym bags. Tread carefully in locker and pool areas.

7.  Unqualified trainers. There are many online companies that offer fitness trainer certifications to wanna-be trainers, who complete a brief test and pay a fee. Not only will unqualified trainers be less effective in helping you towards your fitness goals, they are far less likely to be able to provide you with appropriate instructions and guidelines for safe workout practices.

Always ask to see degrees and certificates before hiring a trainer or taking a class. Make sure they are up-to-date and come from reputable establishments such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise and the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Even if you are a seasoned athlete in great shape—there’s always opportunity for accidents while working out at a gym. You can avoid injury, infection, and other mishaps while exercising by following the above safety procedures and working out responsibly.  Getting and staying in shape is a life practice.  Try to enjoy it!

If you do suffer injury or illness—whether it’s because of defective equipment, unsafe or unsanitary conditions, or negligent staff member call our offices. Liability waivers can make it difficult to hold fitness companies accountable for injuries and accidents, but with over 40 years of experience in personal injury cases, we can make sure you receive just compensation.