The top New Year's resolution is to exercise more according to a survey conducted by fatherly.com. The second and third are to eat heathier and lose weight. It is no surprise then that gym memberships go up in January. The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRAA) notes that more people join gyms in January than any other month of the year.
As people return to gyms, post pandemic, sports injuries have increased dramatically. The National Safety Council notes that in 2020 there was a decrease in sports injuries due to the pandemic as many gyms and recreational centers were closed. But In 2021, 3.2 million people were treated in emergency departments for injuries involving sports and recreational equipment. Since only visits to the Emergency Department are reported, the number of people being injured by exercise is much higher.
Exercise is Important to Your Overall Health
"Exercise, eating healthier and losing weight, are related to your overall health," according to Keith P Johnson, MD, a fellowship-trained Orthopedic Surgeon who is double board certified in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine. "As an orthopedist, I don't give advice on eating healthy or losing weight, but as a doctor, I know how important it is to be at an optimal weight and that a good exercise program can help you lose weight and promote your general health."
What Dr. Johnson can do is to offer advice to people who are returning to the gym after a long layoff, whether due to the pandemic or an injury. "My first tip might seem silly to some, but it is important. Get a new set of sneakers. Even if your sneakers look good, over time cushioning and absorbency wear out. Both help to prevent injuries, so make this investment before you go back to the gym."
Is it Normal to Have Pain after Exercise?
"It's totally normal to be sore after exercise, especially after a hiatus or using new equipment, Dr. Johnson said. "If you have pain after exercise don't go back to it until pain goes away. However, if the pain doesn't go away you should seek a consult."
What Exercises Are Most Likely to Cause Pain?
"High intensity exercises where you don't stop between exercises. Examples include cross training exercises where you move to different stations in succession. Take your time and take breaks. It's not a contest," Dr. Johnson said. Additionally, Dr. Johnson notes that sports that require repetitive motions, such as tennis and pickleball, are high on the list causing problems such as tennis elbow, knee and meniscus problems.
Dr. Johnson's Tips to Avoid Getting Injured
"Most of these tips are common sense. Unfortunately, people don't follow them. If they did, we wouldn't have so many injuries. Here is what you should do if you want to avoid seeing me!"
Learn the equipment
It's boring to use the same machine all the time. Everyone likes to do something new. But even if you are an experienced gym goer, once you try a new machine it is new to you. Make sure you know how to use it properly. Ask a trainer for guidance or watch a YouTube video.
Limit frequency on new equipment
Rest after exercise to give your body time to recover. When you use a new machine, you are using different muscles.
There is no downside to stretching. However, in terms of preventing injury, the studies on stretching are mixed. But, we know that cold muscles are more prone to injury and stretching before and after exercise can help warm up these muscles.
Make sure you are properly hydrated
Exercising when improperly hydrated can lead to injury. As you exercise, you sweat, releasing not only water from your body but also electrolytes that are important for brain and body function. But you don't need gallons of water. Overhydrating can cause problems too.
Marathon runners don't run marathons for practice. They do shorter runs to build up to it. So, think like a marathon runner. You want to finish the race without getting injured. When you try a new piece of equipment in the gym, start slowly. Limit the time and intensity and build up to higher levels.
Strengthen your core
A strong core enhances balance and stability. Having s strong core will help prevent falls and injuries. There are many exercises that can help you strengthen the core including abdominal crunches and planks.
Playing any sport for too long without a break will cause your muscles to be overused. This increases the chances of your being injured. Baseball players don't play two games in a row. Tennis players sit between games.
Give yourself time if you are injured.
Professional athletes need to be cleared to go back to playing. If you get injured, make sure that your injury has recovered fully before going back to the gym. And if you have any doubts consult your healthcare professional.
Which Oasis Centers offer Orthopedic Consults?
All of our OASIS locations provide consultation and treat orthopedic injuries