The Top 4 Workout Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Shoulder Pain - Workout Inujry

Try these simple tips to avoid workout injuries


Everyone knows it’s a good idea to exercise.

Except that’s hard to do if you hurt yourself in the process. Yet even in my own circle of friends and family members I hear of new workout injuries all the time.

My friend just pulled a muscle playing recreational soccer… my cousin injured her shoulder doing chest presses… and my marathoner neighbor is walking gingerly with shin splints again.

Given how common these injuries are, I felt it’s past time to review the most common workout injuries I hear about and how to avoid them.

So here are the top 4 most common exercise injuries… and how to avoid the pain, doctor trips and long recovery time of injuries by making simple tweaks to how you’re doing the exercises that cause them.

How to Prevent the Top 4 Most Common Exercise Injuries

1. Rotator Cuff (Shoulder Injury)

According to Vanderbilt University, “Rotator cuff injuries are the most common upper extremity problem experienced by both recreational and professional athletes.” The four stabilizing muscles in your shoulders are very delicate, especially if they’re not used to being worked. They can become inflamed, strained, or tear completely.

Injuries typically come from bad form, lifting too much weight, or jerking suddenly under weight. This usually happens doing bench presses or lateral pull-downs, or from over-exertion during swimming and tennis.

If you’re bench pressing or doing push-ups, make sure your hands are in line with your shoulders – not too wide or too narrow. If you’re using a lateral pull-down bar, pull the bar in front of your chest, not behind your neck.

2. Shin Splints

The medical term for shin splints is tibial periostitis. Shin splints are usually caused by too much running or sudden stopping and starting, like in basketball, causing the connective tissue between your shinbones and muscle to wear away.

Wearing proper footwear, stretching after exercise, and resting between exercises is usually enough to prevent this injury.

3. Lower Back Strain

The lower back has an incredible tendency for injury. There are multiple common causes of lower back injury during exercise. The most common include …

  • Lifting weight over your head…
  • Pulling weight from side to side, like in standing oblique lifts…
  • Spinning or cycling for extended periods…
  • And poor posture at a desk for extended periods of time.

Remember, always lift with your legs, never with your back! Don’t overexert yourself when stretching and strengthening your back.

4. Sprained Knee

The most common form of knee injury is a strained ACL – one of the four main ligaments in the knee, responsible for controlling rotation. It’s usually damaged when your knee is jerked too far inward or outward, especially when landing from a jump or falling on your knee.

While you can do a little strength training to prevent your knee from rotating out of place like strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, the best remedy is to avoid excessive jumping or situations where you could fall.

How to Prevent Common Exercise Injuries

The most obvious way to prevent injuries like these is to avoid the more injury-prone exercises. Even with perfect form, you’re still at risk for overworking muscles, pulling muscles, and more.

The idea that you have to strain and struggle during a workout to achieve good results is a common misconception. You can keep your heart healthy by walking briskly instead of running. You can lose or maintain your weight by doing gentle exercise–you don’t have to be covered in sweat. (In fact, one study showed that women who worked out 6 times per week did not achieve any more benefits than those who worked out 2-4 times.)

And, you don’t have to workout for hours on end. By using gentle – yet effective – methods as little as 20 minutes, 3-4 times per week, you can become flexible and toned without the pain and suffering.

A perfect method for this type of exercise is pilates. Pilates is a deep body conditioning technique originally invented for dancers, who, of course, have those ideally toned, flexible and super-strong bodies.

Plus, it has a host of other benefits, including…

  • Improving posture by strengthening the back…
  • Increasing core strength while reducing abdominal fat…
  • Building strength equally throughout the body…
  • Improving balance, coordination, and circulation…
  • And much, much more.

If Pilates was originally designed to keep professional dancers in shape… you can bet it’s enough of a workout for you! Best of all, it’s gentle enough to help even those who are already in pain.

And right now, you can give this phenomenal workout style a try – free! Simply ask for a free copy of our Pilates Made Easy DVD and we’ll rush a copy to you right away… just in time to help you meet your New Year’s fitness resolutions – without the workout injuries!

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Hunter GR. Combined Aerobic/Strength Training and Energy Expenditure in Older Women. Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise. 2013 Jan 30.

Common Exercise Induced Injuries: Stretches and Exercises For Prevention and Treatment. Vanderbilt University: Health and Wellness.

Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 5 Dec. 2013.

Filed Under: Pain and Inflammation
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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