A new survey of 2000 British gym goers by natural health company Better You has revealed some of the most common causes of injuries while exercising, and it seems we’re a competitive bunch. The great January pilgrimage to the gym has us measuring ourselves against the performance of our peers and often pushing our limits in a bid to both outdo our supposed gym ‘rivals’ and prove, Gladiator style, that we’re the best.
Such primal performance benchmarks apparently lead to a quarter of us foregoing rest days, with a sixth of us fearing that time off will affect our fitness levels, despite the fact that over one in five believe that skipping rest days leads to injury.
Shortchanging ourselves on R&R across the board is the greatest perceived trigger of injury, with two thirds stating that a lack of sleep ups the chances of gym-based accidents, and 43 per cent vowing to improve sleep patterns after having injured themselves on account of fatigue. While just under 75 per cent reported that recovery was an important component of their fitness routine, only marginally more than a third of us actually rest-up when we experience aches and pains. Such niggles include cramps, back pain, stiff limbs and trouble sitting down, going up and down stairs, going to the toilet, typing, and touchingly, hugging others. Given the roster of complaints, it’s not surprising that over a third reported that post-workout pain affected their ability to do their job well, with pain setting in 12 hours after strenuous exercise and lasting for two and a half days on average.
A lack of time and knowledge on the topic of warm-ups and proper recovery could also be contributing to our gym fails- apparently around two thirds of us skip warm-ups, cool-downs and stretches altogether, and 60 per cent don’t know how to incorporate these in to our workout regime, despite two-fifths agreeing that a failure to warm-up adequately causes pain and heightens risk of injury. Gym goers may be completing 25 minute sessions on average, but our rush to the treadmill clearly needs to be tempered with a few health and safety interventions- after all, just over half of us exercise in order to improve our general health and blood pressure, with the majority citing ‘staying fit’ as their workout impetus. Obviously it’s a bit tricky tricky to maintain said prime fitness when you’re struggling to hobble to the kettle, so instead of (or complementary to) going hell of leather at bootcamp, equip yourself with both basic and advanced recovery techniques to keep yourself on the straight and narrow on the gym floor and off- from foam rolling to adequate hydration, there are many, many ways that you can help yourself. Also, if you trip up, don’t push through the pain. Real life isn’t actually an episode of Gladiators. Go and run yourself a warm bath instead- Better You founder Andrew Thomas advocates magnesium soaks “to help speed up recovery by helping you to improve muscle function and flexibility, maintain electrolyte balance and reduce fatigue. Magnesium is also vital for skeletal strength and energy production, and will help you to sleep well after your workout through its ability to relax muscles.” Whatever floats your boat.