As vaccination rollouts increase across the US, many local businesses, including gyms, reopen. Still, working out at home remains the safest way to stay active and keep yourself healthy amid a pandemic. But some people sprain their ankles and twist their knees as they work out in their home gyms. And because they don’t have professional trainers to guide them, some of them overwork certain muscle groups or sustain injuries as they use new workout equipment or try new routines they see on YouTube.
Whether you have been working out at home for the past year or want to finally give home exercises a try, here are some sports injuries commonly associated with home workouts and how to avoid them.
Low back pain
Low back pain usually occurs when muscles surrounding the spine are strained due to overuse. If you’re lifting weights at home, you are at risk of injuring your back. Keep in mind that you have to lift with a well-positioned, neutral posture spine. Make sure also to engage your core when lifting to support your back.
If you feel your lower back is inflamed, avoid doing overhead squats, weighted squats, and Romanian deadlifts. You have to allow your injury to enter a repair phase, which can start around seven days after injury and last up to eight weeks. Consider sports injury treatment to make sure you recover properly.
Knee pain is difficult to ignore when working out, as you often need to bend your knee or move your legs to follow a workout routine. If you’re lifting weights, doing too many reps or using too heavy weights can be the culprit for knee injuries. For treadmill runners, the risk factor is often course-related. For instance, too many downhill runs can overwork the patellar tendon. Another risk factor is if you have a crossover gait issue. You have to retrain how you run to protect your knee’s iliotibial band or IT band and prevent injury.
If you have bad knees in general, and you haven’t had it checked, one thing you can do is to stick to low-impact exercises. You can still get your cardio without hurting your knees when you swim or do Pilates.
Without access to multiple gym equipment, many people get to be creative at home. Some turn to latex resistance bands to level up their bodyweight training. But these bands can cause all kinds of injuries. Imagine hooking one end of the band around the corner of a closed door, and while exercising, it suddenly came loose. That loose end would whip your arm or leg so hard and likely leave painful bruises. So, before you start, make sure to test the wear and tear of your resistance band. It can be difficult to gauge its quality when it’s at its resting length, so remember to stretch it to check for any micro-tears or other issues. Also, consider screwing a quality hook into one of your walls and threading the resistance band through by using a mountain-climbing shackle. That’s a safer option than attaching the band to a door.
The same precaution should also be applied to weights. Some people refuse to buy new dumbbells online and resort to using rusty ones from their shed. Think of different injuries you can get from lifting old, rusty dumbbells. If you don’t want to buy new ones, go for safer and better alternatives instead. For instance, fill water bottles with built-in handles and use them as weights for your workout routines.
- Don’t forget to warm up and cool down. Stretching and walking around your home before working out can help increase your rate and prepare your muscles. That way, you can prevent strain and breathing problems. Do these after a workout, too, to help your heart rate get back to normal.
- Focus on form and posture. Instead of aiming to do more reps, focus on getting the right form first. This way, you will prevent back, knee, and shoulder pain and even get better results.
- Use mats to protect your joints. Go for a thick yoga mat, especially if you do many crunches, planks, jumps, and other exercises in which you need to lay down. This helps you protect your joints and lower the risk of slipping accidents.
- Let your body recover. Keep in mind that your muscles need time to recover. So make sure to schedule your workouts properly, get enough sleep daily, and eat a healthy diet.
Booking a trainer online is best, so a professional can guide you with your routines, form, and other workout needs. But if that’s not a viable option, keep all the above tips in mind. And if you do experience any injuries due to home workouts, consult a doctor as soon as possible to prevent other health risks.