17 Most Common Fitness Injuries and How to Prevent Them

17 Most Common Fitness Injuries and How to Prevent Them

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1. Hamstring strain

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“Muscle pulls and strains are what I see the most,” McLean says. The most common causes of hamstring strains are strength imbalances and improper form. Runners are especially susceptible when they run their fastest. The quicker you go, the more pressure you put on the hamstrings because you extend your stride. This kind of injury takes at least four weeks to heal. It can often be longer because we walk every day, putting more pressure on the muscles. The best way to avoid the injury is through strength training. Standing deadlifts are recommended.  

2. Ankle sprain

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“Any single leg exercise, when you’re standing on one leg, poses a risk for your ankles,” McLean says. “The ankle is a very mobile joint; it’s made to move.” Ankle sprains happen when the foot turns inward. This unnatural move tears the ligaments that are located on the outside of the ankle. A good way to reduce this painful injury is by doing flexibility exercises in order to prevent loss of balance and strength.

3. Bicep tendon rupture

Bicep curls are some of the most common exercises at the gym. But lifting dumbbells that are too heavy is a recipe for injury. The same can happen if you quickly drop the weight. The best way to prevent bicep tendon rupture is by lifting weight you know you can hold while maintaining proper technique. 

4. Achilles inflammation

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More than half of running athletes suffer from an Achilles inflammation, according to a study, because they have a weak spot at the heel. Therefore, swelling around the tendon is a common injury. People who increase the number of miles they run too soon or add inclines too quickly are at risk. Don’t get impatient with your training and follow a smart plan designed by a professional. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” McLean says. “It takes time to get in shape.”

5. Rotator cuff strain

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The rotator cuff is a group of muscles around the shoulder joint. The most common cause of injuries is repetitive motions that require overhead movements. “Such repetitive motion is unnatural for the body,” McLean says. “Ligaments get stretched over time.” The risk increases as people get older because the tendons degenerate. That’s why the best way to avoid this common injury is to do exercises that will keep you fit as you age. Strength training with lots of repetitions is especially important.

6. Groin pull

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Groin pulls are very common, according to McLean. “They usually happen during squats, lunges and sprinting.” People need to warm up the inner thigh muscles before they exercise. This will make them pliable. The best you can do when you have a groin injury is compress the muscles, put ice on the strained area and rest.

7. Shin splints

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Shin splints happen over a long period of time,” McLean says. Strength imbalances and differences between the amount of stress on the back and front of the leg are the usual causes. “Incorrect mechanics are a big reason.” One example is the popular box jumps – people are supposed to land quietly on the ball of their toes because the impact is then spread evenly. “When the body doesn’t absorb force correctly, it hurts,” McLean says.

8. Foot injuries

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You can hurt your feet doing any kind of athletic activity. Such injuries can be sudden or linger over time if the foot rolls inward or outward too much. People are sitting down most of the day with crunched back and rounded shoulders. When they get up, all of their weight falls on the front of the feet. A common injury is inflammation of the tendons of the big toe. It happens when a person jumps off on it (think step-ups and the likes). Wearing the wrong sneakers can also contribute.  

9. Lower back pain

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“Lower back pain is very common,” McLean says, and it can be caused by numerous factors. The most common one is improper form during weightlifting. “I like to always start off with core stability exercises incorporated in warmups,” he says. Proper posture is crucial to preventing back injuries. “Planks are very useful.” Such spinal mobility drills have to be included in every workout. 

10. Neck pain

Misalignment in you back will hurt your neck. Rounded shoulders and arched neck will only intensify the pain. Unfortunately, this is the position most people are in when they are at work – sitting down staring at a monitor with crunched back. That poor posture accompanies you to the gym, and a lack of mobility puts extra pressure on the lower back and neck. That’s why some doctors never do exercises that require you to sit down. “You’re only applying the same pressure on your body” and the idea is to move around and as much as you can,” according to Chris Leib, a doctor of physical therapy at Movement Professional.

11. Plantar fasciitis

Repeated pressure on the foot can lead to inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. It feels tight and inflexible. You may be at risk if your training program involves a lot of running and sprinting. It’s crucial to pick the right kind of workout shoes if this is the case, and insoles if necessary. Your feet need enough support to absorb the pressure.

12. Joint dislocations

Poor form is the main cause for dislocated joints. People don’t pay attention to their technique when they perform weightlifting exercises. Lifting too much, which is very common, only increases the risk of injury. The extra pressure on shoulders, hands, elbows and knees makes them assume unnatural positions. If you can’t press or pull while your body remains completely steady, you should lower the weight.

13. Quad strain

“I’ve had this injury several times,” McLean says. Imbalances of the muscles from the hips to the toes are the usual culprit. Stressing the muscles when they are not prepared to handle the pressure is the most common cause. “Warming up helps prevent quad strains,” he adds. Overstretching has been known to cause the injury as well. “You can still pull the muscles. Sometimes it’s just not your day.” Foam rolling after strength training can help because it’s very good for muscle recovery.

14. Pectoral injury

A pectoral strain is a condition characterized by partial or complete tearing of one or more of the pectoral (chest) muscles. It often happens when people lose control of the weight they are lifting – the chest muscle or tendon tears. Know how much weight you can control. If your hands shake when you lift, it’s a dead giveaway that the weight is too much for you.

15. Hip bursitis

This common chronic outer hip pain occurs when the small sack of fluid between the tendon and the bone of the outside of the hip becomes inflamed. That also prevents you from moving to the best of your ability. This overuse injury can be common in over-active people who put a lot of pressure on the hips from running or cycling for too long. Strengthening your glutes and hip muscles can help prevent the damage.  

16. Shoulder injuries

“A lot of people, particularly guys, feel pain in the shoulders area but ignore it,” McLean says, “which is why they get injured.” A lot comes through training and disregarding “until you learn the hard way.” Many people do exercises such as shoulder and chest presses and pushups with the arms rotated in, which is unnatural, leading to an overuse injury of the rotator cuff. Balance your shoulders. One of the best ways to do that is by rowing.

17. Torn ACL

This doesn’t happen too often at the gym but it can occur, McLean says. The ligament that holds the leg bone to the knee gets strained, usually by a hard hit. Rotating the knee too far to one side or extending it too far can tear the ACL. One study shows that some people are prone to such injuries – it’s in their genes.