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Discover the 5 Most Common Exercise Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Back pain. Athletic running man with injury in sportswear rubbing touching lower back muscles standing on road outside at night.

Injury can keep you from sticking to your fitness routines.

When you get injured, you need to rest. But, once you’ve recovered, you might not feel like getting back into your regular workout routine. You might enjoy the time off and stop working out.

The best way to prevent this problem is to do your best to prevent the injury in the first place.

This starts with the prevention of injury while exercising.

Exercise-related injuries are hard to track and the stats aren’t updated frequently. But, it’s estimated that 459,978 people were injured while exercising in 2012.

By understanding the most common exercise injuries, you’ll know what to watch out for. There are also certain steps that you can take to limit your chances of getting injuries while exercising.

If you want to remain active and prevent injury, then discover the 5 most common exercise injuries and learn how to avoid them.

#1 – Strained Back

A strained back is one of the most common exercise-related injuries. There are several reasons for this:

  • Not targeting your back muscles with strength training
  • Not using proper lifting techniques
  • Spending too much time sitting

When you don’t target your back muscles, and focus on other areas, you don’t have the strength to prevent injury to the back. At the same time, lifting with your back instead of your arms can cause unnecessary strain. But, the biggest problem is spending too much time sitting on a chair or a couch.

Studies show that sitting too much can increase your risk of heart attack, even if you work out regularly, and it can weaken a very important muscle – your psoas muscle.

The psoas muscles are located along your back and upper legs. They are the bridge between your lower body and upper body. This makes them the core of your stability and the number one defense against back problems.

Sitting for prolonged periods weakens this muscle, limits your stability, and increases your risk of back injury. To combat this issue, you need to work your back muscles and target the psoas muscle.

Low-intensity exercises, such as Yoga, Pilates, and cardio can help strengthen and loosen the back muscles. Other options include dynamic stretching.

#2 – Strained Shoulder

Strained shoulders are also fairly common. Your shoulder joints have a large range of motion, increasing the risk of injury related to poor posture or overuse. Torn rotator cuffs, dislocated shoulders, and should instability should be treated seriously.

You should allow your shoulder to rest and recover, instead of trying to work through the pain. If you hear an audible “pop” in the shoulder joint area, or if you experience severe pain that persists, you should consult a doctor.

For shoulder injury prevention, include exercises in your routine that target the shoulder muscles. This includes push-ups, pull-ups, and shoulder presses.

#3 – ACL Injuries

ACL injuries are also fairly common, but more so for athletes. The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) runs diagonally in the middle of the knee. It keeps the tibia from sliding in front of the femur and helps provide stability.

A tear or sprain of this ligament is typically caused by a sudden stop or change in direction. It can also happen when you suddenly slow down while running or land from a jump incorrectly. That’s why it’s more common with athletes. But, this injury can happen to anyone.

How do you prevent ACL injuries? Sports rehab experts that regularly deal with these injuries recommend that you focus on strength, balance, and overall body awareness.

Move with your knees directly over your feet. You shouldn’t let your knees collapse inwards. Building strength in your hips and thighs will help prevent this problem. When you bend, remember to bend at your hips and knees – not just your knees.

#4 – Runner’s Knee

The stress of constant running can lead to irritation where the kneecap rests on the thighbone. This can result in sharp pain. The general cause is overuse. But, there are issues that can increase the risk of runner’s knee. High-arched feet can offer less cushioning, which limits shock absorption.

Strengthening your hips, glutes, and quads can help you avoid this injury. If you’ve noticed any signs of runner’s knee, you should consider running on a softer surface.

Also, your shoes may be a factor. Flat feet can pull the patella sideways, which can lead to more irritation. Make sure that you have the right shoes, run on a soft surface, and strengthen your leg muscles.

#5 – Pulled Hamstring

A mild hamstring isn’t very painful, but a severe one can be debilitating. The pain will originate near the back of the thigh or lower buttock, especially while walking or straightening your leg. There could also be some tenderness and bruising.

A pulled hamstring can be prevented by strengthening your legs. Though, hamstring strains can also be caused by tight leg muscles.

If you were exercising when the strain occurred, and the pain is mild, then you should work through the pain. Perform stretches to loosen the muscle or get a massage. Though, if the pain is severe, you should rest the leg and use ice to reduce any swelling.

Final Thoughts on Preventing Exercise-Related Injuries

These aren’t the only injuries that can occur. But, they are among the most common. The bottom line is that you need to be careful when you exercise. You need to pay attention to which muscles you’re targeting.

Though, the most important tip for preventing these injuries is to listen to your body. If you feel discomfort, you may be performing an exercise incorrectly or pushing yourself too hard.

Slow down when you notice the pain. Consider the location of the pain and the last activity that you performed. Taking it easy or focusing on other parts of the body while you recover can help prevent serious strain or injury.

If the pain doesn’t go away, you should visit your doctor. Get a full examination and work with your doctor to come up with a recovery plan.

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