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Common exercise injuries

exercise injuries
As much as working out is good for you, the risk of injury from your workouts can be an issue. Those times that you workout with bad form, over do it, suffer from wear and tear from overuse/repetitive motions, or simply not being fully recovered from a previous session can lead to an unwanted injury that could halt your progress for weeks, months or longer.

I want to take this opportunity to also say, although I love working out there are a few things I need to point out. The reality is, the human body isn’t actually designed to lift heavy weights or carry large amounts of muscle on its frame, in the way that many of us do. Nor do our modern lives lend themselves very well to us going from a very sedentary lifestyle to then going for a run and do the numerous other activities we subject it to. However I will also like to point out, we were also not designed to sit around in front of the TV, computer or a desk. We were also not suppose to be able to just buy our food and eat what and when we want and the type of food we have available to us. Given the choice, working out is the only opportunity we have to get or maintain some form of health benefit away from our modern lives we now live. Just remember that doing both therefore can lead to a conflict in what we are asking of our bodies. With that out of the way, let’s get to the possible injuries you may sustain due to this conflict.

Here I will cover what injuries you could sustain and try to pinpoint why that maybe, how to avoid it and what to do if it happens.

Knee injuries

Your knees take a lot of stress from your own body weight. There’s a lot of tendons and cartilage material that can easily be injured during exercises, running, playing sports, sudden change of direction or placing further load on it through resistance training. The most common injury is to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) or Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) and to the cartilage under your knee cap from running.

When sitting down, you ideally do not want to sit with your legs bent under you for long periods of time. Try to keep it at 90 degrees or more with feet flat on the ground. When working out, always look to work up your intensity and strength and above all use proper form and technique. Overweight/obese runners should look to start slow or even do low impact exercises like cycling until they have lost excess weight. Runners in general will benefit from wearing good quality footwear. Using resistance training to build strength in the quadriceps, hips and the hamstring to support the knee is important.

If you injure your knee, you must rest it, place ice on it at the time of the injury to reduce inflammation and take anti-inflammation tablets. If needed you can also use a brace to help protect it from further injury. Seek medical advice if necessary.

Lower back

Back injuries are often a symptom of our modern lifestyle. We sit for hours a day, have bad posture, lift objects incorrectly, lift weights with poor form and often have weak supportive muscles.

To protect your lower back, you firstly need to look at your posture when not working out and ensure you lift with your legs whenever possible. When working out, ensure you warm up properly and use proper form on all lifts and keep a neutral back position. Add at least one exercise for your abs and one for your lower back to your workout plan to help strengthen your supporting muscles of your trunk. Another way is to actually do standing exercises and not do them sitting. This can help build strength in your supporting muscles.

Having a lower back injury is one of the most debilitating injuries to get. If you suffer an injury, follow the usual rest, ice, anti-inflammation tablets procedure. However depending on the severity or type of injury do seek medical help.


One of the most common areas to get injured. Again bad posture with rounded shoulders can cause issues, especially when you start working out with subpar alignment before even getting into any physical activity. From doing sports that require you to throw something to lifting heavy weights, your shoulder joint, although the joint with the largest range of motion is still susceptible to injury. The main issue for many people will be the lack of flexibility in the shoulder joint and weak supportive muscles (rotator cuff muscles) and all this can lead to rotator cuff injuries or an impingement.

Those doing either sports or working out with weights should do exercises to strengthen their rotator cuff muscles. Also regular mobility exercises for those doing sports activities can help, as well a regular shoulder massages for all. Ensure you use proper form in all exercises and avoid overhead lifts if you have any shoulder issues.

If you suffer an injury, follow the usual rest, ice, anti-inflammation tablets procedure. However depending on the severity or type of injury do seek medical help.


Elbow injuries occur mostly with those that partake in such sports as tennis, golf, but can also come from overuse with people who workout with resistance type training. Most elbow injuries are from an inflamed tendon on the outer portion of your elbow (Tendonitis).

There is very little you can do to protect this area, other than using a brace or support or reduce the amount of exercise you do that can cause any issues from overuse.

If you suffer an injury, follow the usual rest, ice, anti-inflammation tablets procedure. However depending on the severity or type of injury do seek medical help.

Ankle Sprain

A sprained ankle is most likely to happen when running, especially on uneven surfaces or from a quick change in direction or sudden impact. The severity of which can very quite a bit. Sitting with a hunch back will give you poor posture and when you stand will shift your weight forward and put stress on your ankle.

Good posture and foot wear can help align the body. Most running shoes can actually make the matter worse, as many will have a higher heel and push you even further forward. So choose your footwear carefully.

If you do suffer an ankle injury, after your initial rest, ice and inflammatory tablets, a slow but deliberate movement plan would be best rather than just resting it, as the ankle can become very tight from lack of movement. If necessary use a brace/support.


This is another problem area often associated with bad posture and sitting with a hunch back and straining to look at a computer screen.

Sort your posture out first. Those that exercise need to use proper form and not use weights that are too heavy that you strain to lift a weight. Keep your head in a neutral position when lifting a weight, not leaning back, forward or to the side.

If you are suffering from an injury to the neck, I do not recommend stretches, as this will cause the other side of the neck muscle to contract and create even more problems. I recommend massages, either using your hand or a massage ball at the area of most discomfort.

Shin splints

Not generally a problem, more irritating, shin splint are caused by the stress placed on the muscles on the edge of the shinbone which becomes inflamed and mostly felt by beginners to running and those that overdo it. Running on uneven surfaces, up and down hills and hard surfaces can increase the likelihood of you suffering from shin splints.

To reduce the effects, warm-up properly before going for a run, increase your workout intensity gradually and again good quality footwear is recommended.

Pulled hamstring

This is usually caused by tight inflexible hamstring muscles or a sudden stretch.

Always get a good warm-up routine in place before working your hamstrings, gentle paced cardio and some dynamic stretching would be a good place to start. But leave any static stretches until after your workout, if indeed you need to do any.

Be careful here, because if you are suffering from severe pain, it could be more than a pulled hamstring and may be a tear, in which case you will need to seek medical attention. For mild pain, follow the usual rest, ice, anti-inflammation tablets procedure.


Almost everything we do involves the use of our hands. This also means that our wrists are subject to a lot of stresses and strains. Most issues however occur due to the angle at which pressure in placed on the wrist joint and its nerves or from overuse from such activities as using a computer mouse creating a repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Keeping your wrist as straight as possible in all lifts and activities helps to reduce the likelihood of damaging a ligament.

Wearing a wrist brace/splint or support can help keep your wrists straight if you are suffering any issues. Take anti-inflammation tablets if necessary.


Well those are the common injuries that you could sustain from exercise. Most can be avoided and many are not necessarily caused while working out, but are created from an under lying issue that does not help. An understanding of how the human body works always helps and prevention will also be better than a cure.

More on this subject to come….