Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve been posting, but I’ll be back to posting regularly again. Also, many of the articles that I’ll be posting here will also be similar to articles that I’ll be writing for BuiltLean.com if you’d like to see another site with lots of great tips and advice on health and staying fit!

Now…back to today’s topic:

7 Common Exercise Injuries

We have enough reasons to not work out already, from being tired or being busy, but let’s not let this one become one of them: injury.  Injuries can sideline the most well intentioned of us, and it’s not just luck that determines who gets hurt. Most of the time, it’s how we do our exercise that can contributes to these common injuries.  I often tell my patients and clients that we are all “natural cheaters”, meaning we all look for the easy way out or the easier way to do something. Sometimes this is ok, but most of the time, we end up compensating.  And many of the same compensations people do over and over can often lead to excessive stress to specific body parts, leading to some very common injuries.  Here’s a brief intro of 7 of the more common injuries that can happen in the weight room with tips to prevent them.

 

Chondromalacia patella – Knee pain.  The patella, or knee cap is often a source of pain.  If your pain is located at the front of the knee, one of these first things I’ll look at is how you squat.   Most trainers focus on not letting the knees go in front of the toes during a squat.  While this can decrease some stress to the knee, it’s much more important that it’s also in the correct alignment (when looking at the leg from the front).  Try to always point the middle of your knee over your 2nd toe.  This will minimize other stresses to the knee that occur when your knee caves inwards.

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Poor form: The toes are out, while the knees are going straight!

Prevention Tips: Keep the middle of the knee in line with the 2nd toe with every exercise.  Whether it’s a squat, lunge or any other exercise you can think of, try to feel or see where that knee is and correct!  This will help to decrease any lateral stresses to the knee, which can exacerbate knee problems.

 

Disc herniation and degenerative disc disease.  Disc herniations are often caused by poor lifting mechanics.  When a patient tells me that they got hurt picking something up, it’s one of the first things on my diagnosis list.  A disc herniation can also be a likely cause of numbness or symptoms that travel down into the legs in addition to localized back pain.   Degenerative disc disease is a common term that doctors use which pretty much means “excessive wear and tear on the spine”.   Both of these can be exacerbated by chronic poor posture, especially when lifting and exercising.  By placing your spine in the correct posture, you’ll have the least amount of stress to your discs and spine, and your core muscles will be able to engage more efficiently.

Prevention Tips: When you stand up straight with your back to the wall, you should have a small natural curve at your low back.  Keep this curve! This position is often called “neutral spine” and should be maintained with all strengthening exercises. Practice hinging at the hips and keeping your spine in the same position.  Also be wary of exercises like the Russian twist which puts a lot of stress on your discs.

 

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Left: Good form on the spine.  Right: Bad form with the back under increased stress, especially if he were to lift a weight!

 

 

 

IT Band Syndrome.  This injury is very common for runners, especially if your form isn’t optimal.  The IT Band is a thick fibrous ligament on the side of your thigh that goes down to the outside of your knee.  An injury here can cause pain anywhere from your outside hip bone down to your knee.  To help decrease stress and injury to the IT Band, make sure to always keep your knees aligned with your toes (as mentioned above), but also make sure that when you run or do single leg exercises to not let your pelvis drop on the opposite side.

Prevention Tips:  Perform more exercises to strengthen your glutes and this will help take stress away from the IT band. My favorite: the single leg hip hinge

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Single Leg Hip hinge

big suprise right? you know every article I right comes back to this exercise!

Secondarily, you can temporarily help to decrease some symptoms by rolling out your IT Band on a foam roller, or deep tissue massage, or my favorite way of loosening up: cup therapy.

 

 

Achilles tendonitis.  Another common injury for runners who have pain in the back part of their heel up to the Achilles tendon. These symptoms can linger and often feel worse when running, especially uphills or on sand.  Tendon problems can often take a long time to heal. First thing to do is rest it so the tendon can calm down and not be inflamed. Then gradually build up the strength in the calf muscle by doing heel raises.  To help prevent this from happening, make sure to stretch out your ankle and calf muscle.

Prevention Tips: stretch your ankle and calves regularly before running or doing exercises similar to the squat. Best warm up exercise: jump rope! This will help strengthen the calves and help you stay quick on your feet.

 

Shoulder pain. People with shoulder pain often fall into two camps: they either move too much in the shoulder or they move too little. For people who move too much and are hyperflexible, at worse you are at risk of dislocating your shoulder, but more commonly you may be putting too much stress to your shoulder ligaments and rotator cuff.  On the opposite end are people who are too stiff in the shoulder who continue to push their shoulder to its full range.  This can result in pain at the top outside of the shoulder leading to shoulder impingement.  When people think about exercising the shoulder, they often don’t think about the entire shoulder girdle, including the shoulder blade, which absolutely needs to move to help support the shoulder.

Prevention Tips Make sure to warm up the upper back and only exercise through a range in which you can move your arm without pain.  Always try to keep the optimal shoulder position when doing any upper body exercise: shoulders down and away from the ears!

Best exercises: dumb bell presses, reverse fly

 

Tennis elbow or lateral elbow tendonitis.  Often from over gripping, this overuse injury can tend to linger like other tendon problems.  Symptoms will feel like an ache on the outside of your elbow, and when you straighten your arm and pull your palm towards you, you’ll feel the outside forearm muscle stretch  Similar to Achilles problems, you need to rest at first to calm it down before gradually strengthening your gripping muscles. You can help alleviate some of the symptoms by regularly massaging and stretching the muscles which can help increase blood flow. As the symptoms calm down, you can gradually increase the work load again with wrist exercises. Make sure that you don’t just work through the pain which may exacerbate your symptoms and make things worse

Prevention Tips Start your workouts with heavy gripping exercises such as farmers carries. This will warm up your entire body, and give you an opportunity to work on your grip strength. Exercises like crawling and pushups can also help to maintain wrist flexibility, which will help keep the muscles in your forearm flexible.

 

Hamstring pulls/tears.  As soon as it happens, you’ll know what this feels like.  Sharp pain in the back of the thigh, often from doing explosive activities like sprinting or jumping which puts a high demand the hamstring muscles.  It can often take a full year or two to fully recover from some hamstring tears. Unfortunately, retears are also very common.

Prevention Tips: Make sure you maintain optimal flexibility in your hamstrings by not only stretching them,but strengthening them with exercises like the deadlift.  Also strengthen the glutes, as these will help significantly to support the hamstrings when you perform sprints and jumps

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