These days there is a lot of talk in the gym about new supplements, exercises, women/men, jobs and the list goes on. There is however very little said about safety. I know as soon as the “S” word comes out a lot of us simply roll our eyes and say something like, don’t worry it will never happen to me. Unfortunately getting hurt in the gym is not only a common occurrence it can also do irreparable damage to your body.
Sorry to go off on a tangent but I just want to show you how you could literally in seconds hurt yourself very badly. I want to share with you a true story of what happened to me in the gym about 7 years ago.
I had just gotten my first gym membership to a local gym near my house. I really hadn’t had much experience lifting weights and I never really read about safety or anything like that.
So I got to the gym with my good buddy early in the morning, that day I had decided to do back and biceps. I began to stretch and warm up, and then proceeded over to the weight station. I set my weight and started on my first set of lat pull-downs. It went very smoothly and felt that I could do more weight. The second set was tough but I still thought I could pull a bit more weight.
On the third set I increased the weight and began lifting. On the final rep I was exhausted and my muscles could not pull the weight down, however I was in the zone and in my mind I had to get that last rep, so I got up a bit of the seat and as I sat back down I used the momentum to help pull the weight down. At that point I realized I had made a very bad choice.
Instantly my entire back went stiff and there was a sudden surge of pain that ran down my legs and into my arms. I could barely move. I slowly stood up and inched my way over to my buddy. I explained what happened and only a few short minutes after that I couldn’t even move my arms, and I could no longer walk without being in excruciating pain. I had to be carried out of the gym and I later found out when I went to the doctor that I had torn and badly pulled my lat muscles.
Needless to say I was unable to return to the gym for almost 8 months. This was a dumb mistake that should never have happened had I exercised the proper form and left my ego at the door. Here are a few tips to help keep you safe in the gym.
- Lift with Proper Form
This is probably one of the top most important tips that anybody could ever give to you. Proper form is essential to your safety in the gym. When you lift weights it should be in a smooth controlled manner. NEVER sacrifice form for more weight, you will get hurt, it may not be right away but you will get hurt and it will never be worth the little extra results you may get.
- Leave your Ego at Home
I realize that sometimes when you get into that zone it can sometimes cloud your judgment and make you want to lift more weight. This however is very dangerous and should never be done. Remember form is everything, if you are having to use momentum or anything else to help you lift the weight then you are lifting too much. Again trying to act macho and show off is simply not worth getting hurt.
- Stretch and Warmup
The more a muscle is moved and stretched the more flexible it becomes. This is why it is important to stretch and warm up before you begin to lift weights. If you lift weights with cold muscles you stand the chance of strains, pulls or worse tears. I would recommend 10 minutes of stretching and another 10 minutes of light jogging.
- Keep your ROM in Check
When lifting weights it is very important not to go over what your safe range of motion is. When lowering the weight on a bench press make sure that you only go down as far as your muscles can handle. If you feel like your muscles are stretching too much stop right away. Hyper-extending your muscles can cause serious damage to your muscle, cartilage and ligaments. Basically while lifting you should listen to your body, and what its capable of doing.
- Don’t be a Tough Guy/Girl
To be honest nobody likes a loud mouth that likes to flap his yap in the gym. This will often result in severe trauma to your face, or a nice beat down in the locker room. Just remember that no matter where you go or how big and strong you think you are, there is always somebody bigger and stronger than you. Not to mention that there are strength in numbers. Either way it never turns out very well for the guy/girl who cannot keep their insults and comments to themselves.
I hope you found these tips helpful, and I hope that you put these tips into practice so that you can focus on getting bigger, and stronger and not on your medical bills.