New Gym Membership: Manage Risks or Take Out Insurance?

Sometimes it is advisable to take out insurance before starting a physical activity in the gym, especially if you want to start with a new sport. The cause of injuries is varied and cannot be 100% predicted, so a good insurance can help. However, in this article, we will try to analyze the main injuries that happen in the gym to let you take the right decision about risk management or insurance coverage.

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Injuries are very common among sportsmen and fitness lovers; they affect everyone, of all sexes, ages, and levels of experience.

On the other hand, since the collective interest seems to be oriented more on aesthetic culture than on sport itself - making use of overloads or practicing calisthenics - and since the majority of users are actually made up of novices without experience, the chances of injury soar.

However, there are some simple steps to follow to train in greater safety. Such precautions are often experienced as a waste of time, but on the contrary, they allow to reduce the so-called unnecessary risks. Let's not forget that the stop due to injury can extend the time of progress much more than we will explain later.


Let's start by clarifying the potential causes of injuries.

Causes

A large part of gym-goers tend to train neglecting the importance of details that can make a difference; this certainly concerns the effectiveness and efficiency of training, but also the prevention and resolution of any injuries.


Major causes of injury in the gym

Heating is often absent or insufficient, as well as activation, loads are excessive, incorrect techniques, the importance of muscle flexibility and joint mobility is neglected. However, it should be noted that this phenomenon is often attributable to the lack of knowledge, or to the less and less careful work of the overburdened weight room managers. Last, but absolutely fundamental, is the uniqueness of the person called "subjectivity". This is not necessarily synonymous with "fragility", since it "should be" logical to know that each of us has different morphological and anthropometric characteristics. The Range Of Motion (ROM) of the shoulders and shoulder blades, spine, hip, knees and ankles can only be partially influenced by training, but it is the conformation itself that "rules".


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Subjectivity and morphological alterations as a cause of injury in the gym.

But be careful, subjectivity and morphological alterations are not the same thing. A shoulder that progressively loses mobility, a spinal curve that is accentuated, a knee that aches under the forces of anterior sliding, are to be considered pathological factors or uncomfortable conditions; as such, they must be corrected. Even in this case, however, a clarification must be made: correcting does not mean forcing, also because certain paramorphisms or pathologies (tendinosis, tendinitis, etc.) can have a root very far from the affected region. Alterations of the first lumbar intervertebral spaces can cause sciatica, abdominal and gluteus maximus weakness can cause changes in the spine, etc. Therefore, feeling pain or instability or difficulty in maintaining certain positions, it is useless to insist.

If, on the other hand, we do not show any symptoms or clinical signs, and we are trivial "like this", there is a small margin for improvement but even in this case, it is useless to persist. How many subjects complain of discomfort by performing vertical stretching and traction movements, or fail to squat while maintaining the gold-standard posture for the squat? Just think of the extreme racial changeability in the opening of the femoral neck, its orientation and the acetabular lodge to understand that Russians and Africans will never meet in the same way. In these cases, the risk lies in trying to work with precarious openings and using overloads that would be challenging even in comfortable positions.

On the other hand, few really ask "why should I do an exercise that I can't"? The instinct of self-preservation as well as reason should have the upper hand over the "enthusiasm". When experiencing pain or discomfort, it is therefore logical to think of "discarding" or modifying the exercise in question. Sometimes, however, the desire to achieve better results, the narcissistic need, competitiveness and misinformation interfere with the decision, increasing the chances of injury.

Speaking of misinformation, it is impossible not to mention false myths such as: "Without squats and deadlifts, it is impossible to grow the legs", or, "The bench press is the fundamental exercise for the growth of the chest; without it, the development is limited ". These are, in all likelihood, even more responsible for injury in the gym than inadequate preparation or paramorphism.

With so many factors to take into account, and given the size of the catchment area, the frequency of injuries can only be high. In short, "breaking" is not always a fault. So let's try to better understand what to do to minimize the chances of injury in the gym.

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Objectives

The results do not depend solely on the way you train. Subjectivity imposes a different response to stimuli for everyone, which cannot be ignored.

Goals must therefore be personalized, as well as training; it is therefore useless to set goals that are objectively beyond one's resources - not only in quantitative terms, but also in terms of time - with the risk of being disappointed, or worse, of asking one's body for more than it can actually offer.

The expression "no pain, no gain" is not always taken literally.


First Conditioning

The first conditioning is an essential phase to take into account if you do not want to shorten your career in the gym to record times.

This is the very first phase of body adaptation and has the function of "running in". It requires patience, as it requires us to use much lower loads than we think we can handle. This serves to strengthen all the structures recruited in the contraction, even the most fragile, and not to hypertrophy the muscle cells.


How to approach the first conditioning?

The conditioning is progressive, in the sense that as time passes and as it increases, loads can also be implemented. The most delicate phase lasts about 2 weeks (3-4 in the case of sedentary or no longer young people) and is characterized by low workloads and consistent repetitions (12-20 reps) performed with total, slow and continuous movements.


Is it better to use machines or free weights?

Often at this stage it is recommended to perform the exercises on strength machines (at least for beginners). The reason is that with them the risk is much lower, since the movement is guided and there is no need for great active stability in the movement. Is this a correct choice? It depends.

However, if the goals are strengthening and muscle hypertrophy, after the first conditioning period is over, it is very likely that you will start using barbells and free weights. But the machines, precisely because they guide the movement, do not allow the stabilizing muscles to work in synergy with the muscles mainly recruited in training. At the critical moment, the motor pattern of the new and more complex exercise, muscle synchrony and stabilizer tone will therefore be missing.

The best thing is to start using dumbbells and barbells as soon as possible, taking advantage of the conditioning period (therefore low loads) to become familiar with the movements. In this way, at the end of this phase you can start to increase the loads without risk. If you are not sure of the execution (which is likely if you are a beginner) ask the room instructor to explain it to you and to check that you do not make mistakes. Furthermore, at this stage it would be advisable to focus on any deficient muscle groups and on those that are notoriously the "weak links". This is the case, for example, of the so-called "rotator cuff" (muscle-tendon complex consisting of supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis), site of most shoulder complications, for which there are specific exercises that we will list .

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First conditioning of the rotator cuff.

Prone (belly down) on a flat bench (0° opening), grasp the dumbbell with the limb perpendicular to the ground and bring the forearm parallel to the ground; return to the starting position. The elbow remains fixed and acts as a pivot throughout the exercise. Exhale in the active phase (while the forearm rises), inhale in the passive phase (while the forearm returns to the starting position)

Lying on the side on a bench, with the arm resting on the bench stretched upwards, grab the dumbbell with the opposite arm and move the forearm away from the body bringing it parallel to the ground; return to the starting position. The elbow must be kept still in contact with the side and bent at 90 ° for the entire duration of the exercise. Exhale in the active phase (while the forearm rises), inhale in the passive phase (while the forearm returns to the starting position)

Lying on your side on a bench, grasp the dumbbell with your arm in contact with the bench, keeping the opposite arm extended along your body. Bend the limb holding the dumbbell so that the arm and forearm form a 90 ° angle, with the forearm parallel to the floor and the arm in contact with the torso. Bring the forearm closer to the torso until it is perpendicular to the ground and return to the starting position. Exhale in the active phase (while the forearm rises), inhale in the passive phase (while the forearm returns to the starting position).

These exercises must be performed with very light weights (initially 0.5-1 kg, then max 2-3 kg) and it is a good rule not to interrupt them at the end of the first conditioning period, taking care, however, to insert them on a day other than the one in which the shoulders are trained with the classic exercises (slow forward, lateral raises, etc.).


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Muscle warm-up

Muscles, tendons and peripheral nervous system have a resting temperature of about 36 ° C, while the best performance is around 38 ° C. This is because with the increase in body temperature the friction between the joints decreases, the tendons slide more easily, there is an increase in synovial lubrication and a greater supply of nutrients to the muscles.


General warm-up

The first 7-15 minutes of training must be dedicated to the general warm-up, which should basically activate the aerobic metabolism. It can consist in the practice of repeated and continuous movements such as: exercise bike, treadmill, rowing machine, bending and twisting of the torso and limbs with free body or with a stick, diaphragmatic breathing exercises, etc.

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Specific warm-up

It takes place after the general one which consists in imitating the exercise to be performed, without creating fatigue: 1-2 sets of 6-8 reo with 40-50% of the maximum load (1RM). In addition to having a preparation function, the specific warm-up allows us to regain confidence with the movement.


Activation or approach

The activation or approach has the function of continuing the specific warm-up, but requires a higher load, perhaps with less rep. It is especially useful in the most advanced tables, where the loads become so important that they require it.


Progression

Muscles adapt to external stimuli faster than tendons. These, in fact, are poorly vascularized and regenerate more slowly; moreover, even the terms of section increase have a limited room for improvement.

It is for this reason that tendon inflammations are among the most frequent injuries in the gym: many, especially newbies, tend to increase loads too quickly, without giving the tendons time to strengthen. The progression must instead be very gradual and must not jeopardize the execution of the movement; working in "forced" or "eccentric" is not advisable for a beginner, even after 8-12 weeks of training.


Muscle Flexibility

The shorter a muscle, the greater the risk of injury. To overcome this problem while working in hypertrophic terms, it is necessary to train muscle flexibility.

Improving muscle flexibility allows the muscle sheaths to be elasticized and ROMs increased, reducing the possibility of trauma such as contractures, strains and tears, tendon and ligament injuries.

However, scientific studies have shown that, contrary to what was believed in the past, training muscle flexibility does not facilitate the elimination of catabolites formed during training - therefore it does not allow the muscle to recover faster - and does not allow to reduce the DOMS.

Muscle flexibility should be trained in separate sessions. This is because the muscles need to be warm and not cold, but at the same time "not contracted by fatigue". Furthermore, it takes as long as necessary; 10 minutes is not enough.

That said, since no gym-goer has this good habit, let's say "rather than nothing, rather better!". If you choose to stretch at the end of the workout, it is recommended to perform a few minutes of aerobic activity to loosen the muscles slightly, for example 5 'on the elliptical at low intensity.

It is important, however, that the stretch is gradual, that it does not last too long, that it is performed without bouncing and that it does not cause pain in any way: bouncing or maintaining a position beyond one's means activates the reflex of tension, which can cause microscopic tears in the muscle fibers, resulting in the formation ofscars and loss of elasticity (opposite to the desired effect).

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Tiredness and Distraction

Distraction is a leading cause of injury. Especially whe n working with high loads, it is essential to pay maximum attention to the exercise, focus on movement and breathing, addressing each repetition as if it were the most important.

It is equally important, however, to be able to listen to the signals of the body. Difficult days can happen, characterized by tiredness or lack of motivation; in these days it would be advisable to lighten the training and avoid increasing the loads, even if it was planned.


Discharge

As per protocol, every 3-4 weeks of intense training an active discharge should be inserted. This allows the body to recover the accumulated fatigue and gives time to repair any small muscle-tendon injuries that need rest to heal. Unloading should be considered as an integral part of training.

The adjective "active" means being able to reduce the volume and / or intensity of the training, not eliminate it. In this way, at the end of the week of unloading, you often feel more energized and motivated.

It is widely believed that sport and physical activity are good as such. But let's not forget that training, especially if intense, is a stress for the body. This stress, if properly dosed and exploited, leads to overcompensation, but if misused it can cause more harm than good.