If 2020 taught us anything, it was how to exercise at home.
But without access to weight machines and personal trainers, the risk of injuries from video-based work-out programs has increased.
People injured during home-exercise routines seek treatment for:
• Shoulder pain, strains, and tears in the rotator cuff
• Low-back pain caused by improper form
• Knee pain from jumping and other high impact exercises
• Ankle sprains and strains
• Hand and wrist tendonitis
• Elbow pain from repetitive movements or hand weights that are too heavy
• Shin splints
• Hip and groin pain from hyperextension or overexertion
• Chest pain caused by using too much weight during chest flies or other pectoral exercises
You can avoid many of these home-exercise injuries by being aware of their common causes.
Equipment malfunctions. Trying to achieve a gym-style workout at home can end with a trip to the walk-in. If you don’t have the proper equipment, look for another exercise or use a modification that doesn’t need equipment.
For instance, using a wooden box instead of an actual exercise step can lead to injury. Use equipment and furniture designed for exercising.
Lack of proper form. “Make sure your knee is behind your toe.” “Your shoulders and elbows should be aligned.” These are just some of the standard instructions you may hear on workout videos.
But how can you tell if you’re using the proper form? Unless you look in the mirror when you exercise and pause your video, you probably think you’re aligned, but really may not be.
Some video instructors are good at telling you which muscles you should feel working. If you work out at home, find an instructor that offers clear positional cues and follow their instructions.
You can also have a family member watch you do some of the exercises and tell you if you’re in the correct position.
Pushing through the pain. Exercise should not hurt. You may feel muscle tightness during the first few days, but it should not hurt to do the activity. If it does, stop and take a few days off. If the pain returns when you start the program again, stop the program and make an appointment with a personal trainer or an orthopedic provider to determine if something more serious is happening.
Using too much weight, too soon. Many video-based exercise programs include advanced, intermediate, and beginning exercise modifications. If you’re just starting a program, try completing the easy exercises first to assess the level of difficulty. Work your way up to the more advanced movements using heavier weights.
If you have knee or back pain, the modified exercises will give you a good workout without adding more stress to your joints and muscles.
Doing too much for too long. After exercising for three or four days in a row, give your body a break.
Exercising without a rest day is counter-productive to fitness. Take a few days off or switch up your exercise routine to include a dynamic recovery or a yoga-flow workout.
Exercising too soon in the day. It’s tempting to wake up and get the exercise out of the way. But you may enjoy a better performance if you wait 45 minutes before exercising. During this time, you’ll give your circulatory and other major systems a chance to return to normal after rest.
Failing to wear high-quality athletic shoes. Unless you are doing a yoga routine, wear your workout shoes. They will support your arches and help keep your body in alignment during your activity.
Being repetitive. Mix it up by focusing on a different type of exercise each day. Your routine should rotate through upper-body, lower-body, core, cardio, and flexibility exercises. Many multi-day programs allow you to work out all parts of your body over the course of several days.
If you cannot find a work-out program outside the gym that fits your lifestyle, walking is always a great option. It is a low-impact, weight-bearing exercise that is proven to produce results.