Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

Fitness Articles  ›  Special Concerns

Avoiding Injury in the Weight Room

Don't Be the Biggest Dumbbell in the Gym!

-- By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

Safety Tip #8: Stop if it hurts.
No pain, no gain, right? Well, sort of. If you ever feel sudden pain during exercise, do not try and work through it. You are not a wimp for stopping, but wise to listen to your body’s warning that what you're doing is not good. But it's important to understand the difference between pain and fatigue, which is essential in strength training. Pain is a sharp feeling that you should stop. Fatigue is the "burn" that builds gradually when you're working against resistance to overload your muscles. The burn you feel after lifting 8-10 reps is fatigue, and that's a good thing!

Safety Tip #9: Keep your hands away from all moving parts.
You're most likely to injure your hands when lifting weights, so pay attention to where you're placing them. When working with weight machines, keep your fingers and hands away from any moving parts—especially the weight stack. If you need to adjust the weight or seat position, don’t do it on the fly. Take the time to stop and adjust safely. If using dumbbells or other free weights, make sure to use care when racking the plates and/or dumbbells. A moment of carelessness can cause weeks of pain and regret!

Safety Tip #10: Ask for help.
When all else fails, ask for directions! Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. When I was a Wellness Director for the YMCA, I always worried about the member who never asked for help. Even if you have an orientation to the equipment, you probably will not remember everything. If so, ask questions! That is why fitness centers are staffed and why you pay membership dues. Also, don’t depend on watching someone else to determine how you should do something. Get help from certified trainer or qualified instructor. You can also get answers to your questions by posting on SparkPeople's Message Boards.
‹ Previous Page   Page 4 of 3   Return to main fitness page »
Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

Related Content


About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

Member Comments

  • KELVINJOHN
    Very informative post and like to add to avoid exercise injury warm up and stretch before regular exercises and make sure you are hydrating before, during, and after your workout. Dress properly for your workout, always listen to your body and stop if it hurts.
    http://www.aspe
    nrainchiropra
    ctic.com/chir
    opractic-high
    lands-ranch/ - 6/20/2013 5:50:24 AM
  • Great article - 6/1/2013 3:52:24 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    Most of this article is nothing more than common sense. If you're at the gym and are using weight machines - READ AND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS!!! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how the machines work.

    Sadly, the photo accompanying this article shows bad form. The guy has his knees bent more than a 90-degree angle, and they are past his toes. That puts undue pressure on the knee joints and can cause injury. - 6/22/2012 1:48:14 PM
  • ... Okay, I understand advertising to pay for the site. Really, I do.

    But how do feminine hygeine products have ANYTHING to do with the underlined words? Please fire that marketing "genius". - 6/22/2012 1:47:11 PM
  • Advocating machines, static stretching and tempo lifting?

    This is one of the worst articles I've ever read on this site. Yes, not crushing your hands under weights and not lifting more than you can safely and with good form will avoid injury. No kidding.

    There has been plenty of research done by folks with actual degrees that has shown static stretching may increase injury while weightlifting, speed of repetition is unimportant so long as proper form is maintained, and that some machines, especially the Smith machine and Leg Press can be dangerous to joints. - 6/22/2012 1:09:09 PM
  • I never fail to hurt my ankle when I try to lift weights. Short of wearing ankle braces that never fit me right, I have yet to find anything that actually works to prevent MY ankles from being messed up. - 6/22/2012 12:42:46 PM
  • Thanks...this was very informative. - 6/22/2012 11:08:17 AM
  • My #1 tip for avoiding injury is to RESPECT THE WEIGHT. A weight is never safe until it is re-racked properly. Pay attention to form even when re-racking, returning the cable to the start, etc. 100% of my gym injuries have been from neglecting to follow this rule. - 6/22/2012 11:05:46 AM
  • EMMANYC
    I agree with BOB240. Almost all of the injuries and difficulties I've had in the weight room have related to using machines, not free weights (or bodyweight exercise). One of the worst culprits is the machine they use to illustrate this article. It's very easy to use this machine to lift more weight than your lower back can handle. My sister (an RN), my back doctor and my trainer all pointed to this machine as one of the primary sources of strain that led to two ruptured discs in my back. Frankly, most of the machines in the gym that are used for leg strength exercises are a problem. I think people are much better off learning how to do body weight exercises and exercises with free weights under the supervision of someone very knowledgeable, like a trainer. - 6/22/2012 10:57:53 AM
  • The use of machines is dubious - many, such as Smith machines encourage bad form and have restricted movement which can lead to injury.

    Machines TEND to isolate small muscles muscles (exceptions being leg press, lats pulldowns) and mislead people as to what they are actually achieving. There is no point sitting on a biceps machine for hours doing bicep curls - biceps don't grow that way...

    First and foremost you need someone who knows what they are doing to teach you "form" on free weights. In particular, concentrating on compound movements with light weights. This is an efficient/quick and safe way to build whole body strength which in the long term will protect you from injury and improve your strength.
    - 6/22/2012 4:23:43 AM
  • I think the biggest take away is don't be afraid to ask how to use equipment correctly. You will look more foolish using incorrectly than you will look asking how to use (not to mention the potential for injury). I've seen more men than women use equipment incorrectly. I always figured the men just thought they should just "know", so punted instead of asked. Every once in a while I will watch and think, "Wow, he is really going to hurt tomorrow." - 5/19/2012 12:27:03 AM
  • This is helpful. Sometimes I rush my workout and miss some key steps (warm-up, stretching), but I will make a better effor moving forward. - 6/24/2010 9:42:25 AM
  • Wonderful article, If I get a chance to go to a gym I will remember this article. - 3/28/2010 3:07:57 PM
  • Great tips for beginners and experienced users can always get a reminder too that it's not about being macho in the gym but doing it right for the results we want. Thanks for the informative article. - 10/6/2008 3:43:41 PM
  • Excellent article! I especially like the suggestion of stretching between sets. - 6/14/2008 1:19:47 PM
Popular Calories Burned Searches: Biking/Cycling: 20-22 km/h (3 minutes per km - 2.72 minutes per km)  |  Biking/Cycling: 23-25 km/h (2.6 minutes per km - 2.4 minutes per km)  |  Biking/Cycling: 26-31 km/h (2.3 minutes per km - 1.9 minutes per km)