The Most Common Exercise Injuries and How You Can Avoid Them

UPDATED 11/5/20

With over 180,000 fitness clubs located across the world, it’s easy to see how prominent exercise is within our society. Millions of people turn to exercise for a variety of reasons, though one of the most common reasons remains the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. However, while regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy, it can be dangerous if not done correctly.

According to the National Safety Council, personal exercise — both with and without equipment — accounted for nearly 526,000 injuries in 2017 alone. When starting out with an exercise regimen, it can be easy to hurt yourself by either pushing yourself too hard or by incorrectly using gym equipment. Even seasoned athletes can become injured if they don’t take proper precautions. Mistakes like these often lead to the most common exercise injuries and they can end up being debilitating if not treated appropriately. Fortunately, there are many ways to mitigate the risk of injury and treat the most common injuries to ensure that you can continue working out as safely as possible.

Treating and Preventing the Most Common Exercise Injuries

You don’t need to use Coolsculpting to achieve the perfect body, thanks to a variety of workout routines. But it’s important to know how to identify and treat the most common exercise injuries that can occur. This ensures that you can continue to work towards your own personal fitness goals without the risk of permanent damage or harm.

Plantar Fasciitis

One of the most common exercise injuries that many people face is plantar fasciitis. This condition is typically seen in runners and those who spend a lot of time on their feet. Identified by inflammation and pain on the bottom of the foot, plantar fasciitis can often manifest as a sharp stabbing pain that can make it difficult to walk.

Over-working your feet and wearing the wrong footgear can exacerbate this condition. If not treated correctly, the tiny tears in the ligament can continue to worsen, making the pain increasingly more intense. To prevent this, always take care to wear supportive footwear while exercising, and try to maintain a healthy weight to avoid additional stress on the ligaments. If this condition has already manifested, stop your daily exercise activities and seek out podiatric care. You can also use orthotic shoe inserts to help alleviate some of the pain and prevent further stress. You may find relief by applying ice to the injured area or rolling your foot over a golf ball. In some cases, you may even use a foot cream for pain coupled with a specially designed night sock to help relieve stress and prevent additional stiffness and pain in the morning.

Runner’s Knee

Another of the most common exercise injuries is caused by worn-down cartilage under the kneecap. Known as runner’s knee, this condition can cause pain while walking, climbing stairs, or sitting with the knees bent for too long. A common problem accounting for nearly 40% of running injuries, this issue can be avoided by forgoing repeated kneeling or squatting, as well as preventing unnecessary weight being placed on the knees. Risk can also be mitigated by wearing the proper shoes and taking care to switch up the surfaces that you run on.

If you are already struggling with runner’s knee, you should take care to halt all exercise until the condition has been controlled. Icing the area for 30 minutes in intervals of three to four hours every couple of days can help alleviate pain. Elastic bandages and knee supports can also be used to help remove additional stress. If the pain and swelling get to be too severe, you can take an anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil or Motrin. However, if the pain is becoming debilitating and is only growing worse, you may wish to visit a chiropractic clinic for professional opinions. In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the kneecap’s position and ensure that the stress can be evenly distributed.

Pulled Hamstrings

Another one of the most common exercise injuries is one most people are familiar with. A common injury among all manner of athletes, a pulled hamstring can be a painful condition that may even require surgery if the muscles need to be reattached.

A pulled hamstring occurs when one or more of the four muscles that run along the back of the thigh becomes strained or tears. While minor cases will cause mild pain, in more severe cases, the pain may be unbearable and make walking or standing nearly impossible. To prevent this condition, always take care to warm up before exercising and gradually work up to more strenuous exercises, as opposed to jumping right into it. If you are already struggling with a pulled hamstring, an elastic bandage can be used to help mitigate swelling. You may also consider using anti-inflammatory drugs or walking with crutches to help prevent additional stress. However, if the pain continues to worsen without improvement, you should speak with your doctor to help rule out the need for additional measures.

Sternal Fractures

Fractures are another of the most common exercise injuries people deal with. Usually caused by stress or a blow to the sternum, such as if the bar slams down while you’re bench pressing, this condition can be quite debilitating if not healed correctly. While injuries like this can occur in many places on the body, it’s important to know how to tell if you have a fracture so you can ensure that you don’t make the problem worse. For instance, leaving a fractured wrist or ankle improperly treated can cause incorrect healing and problems with mobility down the line.

Sternum fractures can be avoided by forgoing activities that place too much stress on the sternum. If you’re incorporating bench presses into your regimen, take care not to overload your bar and always have a spotter to prevent an accident that could cause trauma to your sternum. Protective chest guards can also be used to help mitigate this risk.

If you are facing a fracture, don’t wait for it to heal on its own. While icing the area can help relieve pain, immediate medical care and a thorough medical examination will be needed to ensure that no damage as occurred to your heart, lungs, or other organs. Surgery may be required if the bone is found to have been displaced.

Dislocated Joints

Unfortunately, another one of the most common exercise injuries is a joint dislocation. Joint dislocations can happen during an unbalanced or unexpected impact and can require a visit to an urgent care clinic to move the joint back into place. Commonly caused by poor form or lifting too much weight, after the injury occurs you can expect swelling, loss of motion, numbness, and bruising.

Treatment will involve taking a break from your exercise and wearing a sling for a few days. This is to help prevent unnecessary movement and stress while also helping to speed up the healing process. To prevent this injury, take care to learn the proper forms for the exercises you’re doing, while also making sure that you’re not attempting to lift loads that are more than you can handle. Alternate your workouts to prevent too much stress from being placed in a single area. If a dislocation occurs, never try to set it on your own, as doing so can damage nerves, blood vessels, and the surrounding ligaments, preventing proper healing.

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the most common exercise injuries, mainly due to the fact that many different workouts can cause it. Both cyclists and weightlifters can fall prey to this injury, as can anyone performing an exercise that puts stress on their spine. For instance, even those taking dance aerobic classes can experience back pain from twist wrong or turning too fast.

Most back pain can be treated with rest and care. But if the pain doesn’t clear up, you may wish to see a chiropractor in order to ensure more severe damage wasn’t done. To prevent this injury, always take time to stretch and warm-up before a workout, and never jump into a workout at full speed. Start carefully and gradually, even if you’re doing the same routine you have for years. You may also consider incorporating a core-strengthening workout into your routine to help strengthen that area and further guard against injury.

Safe Workout Ideas

For those looking to start exercising safely, here are some popular workout ideas that can protect your well-being.

  • Swimming: Swimming is a fun and effective exercise that can be taken advantage of by almost all age groups. It can also help you avoid some of the most common exercise injuries. Water aerobics, in particular, are great for relieving stress on specific joints while still enabling you to be active. Because you weigh less in water than you do on land, you’ll experience less strain on joints and less trouble moving around. For these reasons, water aerobics, in particular, has seen a surge in popularity among elderly folks and pregnant women who want to stay safe and active. Additionally, swimming has also grown in popularity and many have taken advantage of swimming pool services to have pools installed right in their backyards. Swimming a couple of laps every day can be an effective way to build lean muscle without the risk of significant injury. Furthermore, a backyard pool can also double as a great place to relax after a workout!
  • Walking: Simple, right? While extensive walking on hard concrete can put pressure on the feet and joints, shorter walks in grassy areas can provide more shock absorption and allow you to get a bit more activity in your day. Hiking along nature trails while wearing the proper footwear can enable you to get in your steps without the stress that can come from walking on hard concrete. However, before undertaking a mile-long walk, it’s important to start off small and gauge how much your body can handle. While it might sound tempting to take a three-mile hike around the wilderness, jumping right into it can end up causing more stress than your body needs.
  • Group Classes: An injury can still occur in Zumba classes or in a low-impact exercise course. But if you pay attention to your body and listen to the instructor, you’re unlikely to experience anything more than minor soreness if you’re unused to exercise. Low impact aerobics like this can be great for beginners, and they can help get your body used to working out without the risk of overexertion.
  • Ellipticals and Stairclimbers: Both of these machines can be either bought and used at home or utilized in a gym. While they may seem like standard fare, they can be great for beginners or those looking to workout with gradual build-up. You can start off slowly and gradually increase your pace as you make your gains. As long as you don’t push yourself too hard you shouldn’t expect any detrimental injuries.

Safety First

When starting any type of workout, it can be easy to jump into it thinking that your body can handle whatever stress you throw at it. However, this is the cause of many of the most common exercise injuries. When starting out, even with exercises you’ve done before, it’s important to warm up beforehand and start off slowly to prevent strain and eventual injury. You should also take care to learn proper form, especially when it comes to lifting weights, as lifting incorrectly or lifting too much can quickly lead to disaster.

When all of this is taken into consideration, you can significantly help reduce your risk of injury, while also ensuring that you’re getting the maximum effectiveness out of your workouts. While exercise is a popular activity throughout our society, throwing safety to the wayside will only end in injury, instead of the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Understanding what some of the most common exercise injuries are can help you avoid them while you exercise. Having a defined exercise regime will help ensure you get the best results for the work you are doing. Working out can help you lose weight, build muscle, and feel better about your body. Some people believe there are 3 different types of exercise that makeup workout strength, endurance, and flexibility. Others believe there are 4 main types of physical activity aerobic, muscle-strengthening, bone-strengthening, and stretching. Whether you think there are 3 or 4 styles getting the basics down and doing the exercises properly is the most important part.

Here are 10 basic exercises that can help you achieve your exercise goals.









Arm andamp; leg lift


Each of these exercises can be done in different ways to target different parts of your body for your exercise goals. You can also include a 30 minute moderate workout and stretching to target a full-body workout. A full-body workout will help strengthen the opposing muscles and stretch your body to lower the possibility of injury.

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