Staying safe working out at the gym


Staying safe working out at the gym

Very few of us consider that working out at a gym, could also be a potential place to injure ourselves. We view health clubs or home gyms as places helping us achieve better and improved health. Generally our gyms do just that but beware - any kind of exercise also has the potential to cause injury, especially when it involves heavy gym equipment.  A reminder of this fact was the death in April 2015 of a well-known tech executive, David Goldberg, who suffered from a head trauma from falling off a treadmill in a hotel gym.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 60,000 Americans seek out medical help from hospital emergency rooms each year due to injuries caused by gym equipment.  The top piece of gym equipment leading the pack with 24,000 reported injuries a year are treadmills. Free weights are another cause of thousands of serious injuries each year, usually resulting from people dropping barbells on themselves.

The last thing you need is an injury keeping your from the gym that could sideline you for weeks or months.  To avoid and prevent gym injuries or potentially worse, here are ways to exercise smart and safe when working out at the gym:

·      Warm-up and cool-down

No matter what type of gym equipment you plan to use, always begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down period.  A warm-up helps your body get ready for exercise. It gradually increase your heart rate and loosens your muscles and joints.  This might include jogging in place for a few minutes or jumping rope. A cool-down after you work out is important to slowly bring your heart rate back to normal.  Walking for 5 to 10 minutes after you work out is one way to cool down. Stretching is also good both before and after working out to help increase flexibility.  

·      Learn how to use equipment

Before beginning on an unfamiliar piece of gym equipment, work with a trainer or read the instructions carefully.  If you are getting ready to walk on a treadmill you are not used to, become familiar with the control panel knowing how to turn it on and off,  and how to adjust the speed and incline.

·      Focus and pay attention

When working out using gym equipment, avoid being distracted.  For instance, never walk on a treadmill while holding your cell phone.  Focus on what you are doing and pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t be distracted by the touchscreen on the machine or not looking when stepping off of equipment.

·      Use treadmills safely

While treadmills can be a great workout when used safely, if misused, they can be a great way to get hurt. When using a treadmill, don’t stand on the belt as it starts moving; straddle the belt and let it move slowly before stepping on; gradually accelerate; don’t step off until the belt stops; know how to use the emergency off switch.  If there’s safety key, clip it to your clothing. It’s connected to the console, and should you fall, it stops the treadmill.

·      Avoid exercising alone

When working out at a public gym or in a hotel’s exercise room, be careful exercising by yourself. If you were to have an accident and are unconscious, there may be no one to help you right away. 

·      Use weight equipment respectively

Weight equipment is another potential hazard if not used and respected properly. When using a weight resistance machine, be sure that the pin securing a stack of weights is firmly inserted. The danger of not securing the pin is that if it were to pop out while you were exercising, the weights will crash down and the sudden lack of resistance may send you flying; the pin may even become a projectile.

·      Use home gym equipment properly

If you have gym equipment in your home, place the equipment a safe distance from walls, furniture, windows, and mirrors. Check over home gym equipment before purchasing to inspect if it is well-constructed. Flimsy or wobbly home equipment is more likely to cause injury.

·      Be mindful when using exercise bands

If you use exercise bands, keep them from slipping and potentially flying and striking you, anchor them firmly to an object so they are unable to move. Wrap exercise bands securely around your hand or foot so it won’t slip.  If you tie a band to a doorknob, make sure the door won’t open.

·      Hair and jewelry

Long hair should always be pulled back to prevent getting caught in a machine and jewelry, especially necklaces or dangly earrings, should not be worn while working out.

·      Protect children and pets

If you have children or pets, keep them away from home exercise equipment, especially when you are using it.  Gym equipment should be kept behind closed, locked doors and always unplug treadmills.