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How to avoid injury when joining the gym

Joining your local gym is the first step many people take in getting fit. Those joining the gym for the first time or returning to exercise after a prolonged period, then you may be potentially at higher risk of suffering an injury.  

Many injuries can be avoided if people are aware of the potential risk factors and the fundamental principles of exercising safely. Importantly, if you have any ongoing medical issues or you are over the age of 45, it is recommended that you first speak to your GP before increasing your activity levels or joining a gym. Your GP will check that it is medically safe for you to do so. Speak to your GP before joining a gym if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes,
  • Heart condition,
  • vascular condition,
  • Being treated, or have been treated, for cancer,
  • Dizziness or shortness of breath when exercising,
  • Palpitations or increased heart rate after exercising,
  • Migraine, disorientation or chest pain after exercise.

Start low and build slow Many people joint the gym to either lose wight or build muscle as quickly as possible, however die to the way the body works different tissue will take differ lengths of time to adapt, because of this when starting to exercise its important to low intensity level sessions. Your muscles, cardiovascular system and proprioceptive system will adapt through training, a major risk of causing injury is to increase the intensity or length of your sessions to soon. Balance your exercise program When joining a gym most people will have a specific goal, but it’s important to consider all aspects of fitness and have a balanced exercise program. For example. Those traying to lose weight may use running as their main method of exercise, but studies have shown that strength and resistance training alongside running can prevent the chance of injury by 50%. Book a mobility test People who may have not exercised for a long time and are planning to return to exercise or have a pre-existing injury are at high risk of suffering an injury when returning to exercise. Before making a full return to exercise it is advised to see a physiotherapist or PT who can assess your ability before you begin your exercise programme, by addressing any weak areas of the body in the correct manner it will help you avoid injury or causing further damage to an already weak area. Include efficient recovery time When starting to train and exercise regularly it can be easy to over work the body, this puts the body at a greater risk of suffering an injury. This is why it is important to allow adequate time for your body to rest; this could mean not training a muscle group two days consecutively or running two 10 mile runs two days in a row. The average recovery time for a muscle group is up to 48 hours, however if you’ve exercising for the first time of after a prolonged period away then your body may need more time to fully recover. Again, by seeing a personal trainer or physiotherapist they can help you plan an effective and safe exercise programme to follow to prevent causing any unnecessary damage to the body. Form always comes first People who are new to exercise may put themselves at risk of suffering a serious injury by switching their focus away from form, the method in which an exercise should be done correctly. Instead of targeting weight and reps its crucial to maintain form, as performing an exercise incorrectly can actually cause damage rather than help muscle grow. Its is important to aim for slow and consistent progress when exercising, after the first 6-8 weeks of regular exercise the physical difference in your body will become much more gradual compared to in the opening weeks. Therefore, getting advice from a personal trainer on the correct form when it comes to weight lifting, running, biking and even the rowing machine, it can not only increase your physical performance over time but also lower the risk of suffering an injury.