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How to prevent the 5 most common gym injuries

Your workout is meant to build your body up, not break it down. But injuries from working out happen way too often nonetheless.

In fact, a 2017 study from the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that there were more than 526,000 emergency room visits prompted by gym injuries that year.

But let’s be honest: most gym injuries are totally preventable. Here are the 6 most common ones — and how you can avoid them.

1) Lumbar strain.

The cause: Straining the muscles of the lower back can occur in numerous ways. Typically, these injuries are the result of “suboptimal posture/technique, excessive load on the back with an activity, repetitive movements, and/or twisting motions – especially with weightlifting,” Christopher Hogrefe, MD, FACEP, orthopedic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine, told MensHealth.com. 

How to prevent back pain: Work on strengthening your core. (You can start by trying out some of these moves.) “Trying to optimize one’s flexibility can also be beneficial. Sometimes hamstrings that are too tight, for instance, can result in lower back issues,” says Hogrefe.

You should also focus on improving your posture. (Try one of these 12 awesome exercises.) “Even when you are not working out, try to maintain good posture throughout the day,” says Hogrefe. “And avoid bending at the waist to lift things. Utilize the lower body/legs in such settings in order to reduce the strain and stress on your lower back.”

Try a wall sit to strengthen your back and offer more support.
“Keep your back flat on a wall, knees bent, with no gap between your back and the wall, with your arms straight out,” Dominic King, DO, sports medicine orthopedist at the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Center, told MensHealth.com.

When to see a doctor: For most of the injuries on this list, you should adhere to the PRICE method (PRICE stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) and stay off the injured area for a few days. But any time you have pain radiating from your back down your legs, it is time to seek a medical opinion. “Numbness or tingling or burning may signal a disc herniation,” says King.

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