As the media becomes increasingly obsessed with body image and fitness, it’s unsurprising that we’re fast becoming a nation of fitness fanatics, with every donut or burger being paid for by punishing workouts in the gym. It might seem like all that time exercising is good for your health, but many people don’t realise that there are significant risks associated with going to the gym!
A big risk to your health is overtraining; working out too hard or incorrectly can cause way more harm than good, and can lead to serious injury if not caught early. Any weight training you carry out must be done with proper form and rest days between workouts, as the muscles need a chance to recuperate. Not giving yourself the chance to rest can hinder your progress and make your workouts less effective, as you will be too fatigued to perform the exercises correctly.
Overtraining can cause injuries in other ways too; shin-splints are a common complaint of runners, who overdevelop their calf muscles or try to force too much exercise from their weak or fatigued calves so that they place too much pressure on the tibia. This can lead to repeated bending of the bone and in extreme cases a broken leg.
Using equipment improperly can also lead to injury; jumping straight into a workout without learning how to properly use the machinery is risky and often head injuries and twisted ankles can be sustained from not knowing how to emergency stop treadmills and cross trainers. You’ve probably heard loads of funny stories from people who’ve got flying off the back of a treadmill, embarrassingly landing in a heap on the floor, but it can be very dangerous if there are any other pieces of equipment in use nearby, or people walking past.
It’s always wise to accept the offer of an induction, even if afterwards you feel you’ve learned nothing new. There’s no harm in going through the basics every once in a while, and you may realise a piece of equipment has a feature that you’ve never come across before. Many gyms make inductions a compulsory part of the signing up process, to cover them in case you have an accident, and to ensure you know what you’re doing in the gym.
Whilst being given an induction, you can also check out the fitness instructors to see whether they’re first aid trained – many don’t need to have fitness qualifications, never mind health and safety training, so it’s always wise to see who’s supposed to be helping you. Lack of basic first aid training is a common mistake that results the risk of death to up to 150,000 people every year.