Most of us could agree that telling someone your injury occurred at the gym is quite embarrassing, considering this is an activity where you usually have total control. I want to mention just a few things I have seen over the years that most individuals should address. A majority of these deal with form, however I include some other things too.
- Do Not Pick Up the Weights While Sitting
I am a big supporter of using dumbbells and independently strengthening your extremities, but pick up your weights correctly. Studies looking at disc compression indicate that intradiscal pressure is greatest while seated and bending over to lift weight. Avoid this unnecessary pressure by squatting to lift your weights.
- Thumbs Up or Out for Shoulder Flexion
When performing shoulder flexion exercises, sometimes known as front lateral raises, keep your thumbs up or pointing out to the side with your palms up. These positions will prevent the supraspinatus tendon from rubbing against the acromion and possibly forming a tendonitis.
- Breathe Correctly
Don’t hold your breathe during a lift or any type of exercise. Doing so can create a Valsalva maneuver, which is exhaling against a closed mouth and nose. This starts a sequence of events that eventually causes a dramatic spike in blood pressure. Breathe out with exertion, the lifting part, and inhale in between. In addition, do not block your airway by flexing your neck and looking down.
- Create a Space During Humeral Rotation
While performing internal or external rotation at the shoulder, do not tuck your arm against your body. Maintain an adequate blood flow to the supraspinatus tendon by placing a towel underneath your arm. Inadequate blood flow may lead to degeneration of the tendon.
- Listen To Your Body
This is one of the biggest things to keep in mind during exercise. Pain should not be felt during a workout. The saying “No Pain, No Gain” is an awful motto to live by. The onset of pain is far after an injury has already occurred. Fatigue, on the other hand, is much different and a normal occurrence; however, you should know when you have exerted too much.
- Use a Spotter
Achieving your maximal lift is important for building strength and personal motivation, but safety is first. A spotter should be present in case of failure while lifting heavy weight or performing high repetitions. I would much rather have someone protecting me instead of possible broken bones and internal bleeding.
- Stop Bouncing Off the Chest
One of the most common things I have seen done in the gym is people bouncing the barbell off their chest during bench press. Aside from the trauma you can cause to your ribs and sternum, your shoulder joint is enduring additional stress. Utilize your eccentric strength, the lowering portion, and do not go lower than 90 degrees (see picture below).
- Work Out Functionally
Try exercising in a plane of motion you use on a daily basis or use for your activity of choice. For a plane of motion, think of the angles you perform an exercise. This approach will help you maintain functional strength throughout your lifetime. Think about when you push an object in front of you; the motion will normally not include lifting your elbows to your ears.
These are just a few hints that can help prevent a workout injury. Remember to always seek help from a licensed and skilled healthcare professional before starting any resistance-training program.
- Patrick Berner, SPT