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Common Exercise Injuries & How to Avoid Them

Common Exercise Injuries & How to Avoid Them

Sep. 1st, 2022

An injury from a workout or playing a sport can happen to anyone. Your level of strength, experience, or physical activity you’re performing does not always make a difference as to whether or not you’ll get hurt. 

However, taking precautions and safely exercising can prevent many common injuries. Here are some of the most common injuries when exercising and training for sports, as well as injury prevention tips to protect your body during physical activity.

Top Exercise-Related Injuries

Shin splints

Shin splints are a common injury that can occur when you run, walk, or jump. Shin splints are caused by inflammation of the muscles, which causes pain along the inner edge of the shinbone. If a shin splint worsens, it can turn into a stress fracture along the tibia.1

Sudden intensity and frequency are common causes of shin splints. You should make sure to gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts, and avoid overexerting your muscles to prevent shin splints.

Herniated disk

Herniated disks, often referred to as a slipped, ruptured, or bulging disk, are fairly common among those who exercise or perform intense sports. They often cause pain in the neck or back.

The disks in your spine are cushions that are between your vertebrae. Each disk is made of a soft, gel-like center and a firm outer layer. If the outer layer weakens, the inner substance can leak or get pushed out, which causes a herniated disk. This substance may also press on spinal nerves, causing more pain.2

A herniated disk could be the result of excessive weight, older age, or improper weight lifting. It can cause pain in the neck or back. To avoid this injury, practice good posture, regular exercise, and proper weight lifting.

Muscle strain

A muscle strain, pull, or tear occurs when a muscle is overstretched and torn. This can cause damage to the muscle and its attaching tendons.

Muscle strains typically occur due to fatigue, overuse, or improper use of the muscle. There may be inflammation, weakness of the muscle, and pain associated with a muscle strain.1

To avoid a muscle strain, warm up before exercising and do not push your muscles further than they can handle. Avoid excessive strain on the muscles by gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts.

Shoulder injury

Shoulder injuries such as strains, sprains, and dislocations are among the most common injuries when it comes to sports.

The shoulder is the most moveable joint in the body, but it also makes it the most unstable.3 A shoulder injury can easily occur due to lack of flexibility, strength, or stabilization.4 The rotator cuff, which keeps your shoulder moving, is commonly affected by shoulder injuries.

To prevent any kind of shoulder injury, it’s best to strengthen the area and utilize it as often as possible without overusing it.

Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow is a name given to a common elbow injury caused by the overuse of your elbow. It’s called this because tennis (and golf) players are most likely to get it. However, anyone who is exercising and overexerting their elbow is susceptible to this injury.5

The pain from tennis elbow is due to inflammation in the tendons. Weakness can also occur, especially when you’re trying to grip and hold objects. To prevent this injury, make sure to warm up and stretch your arms before your workout.


A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury and also the most common type of brain injury. When you have a concussion, you might experience confusion or loss of consciousness.6

Concussions can be caused by a blow to the head, a fall, or an injury. This type of brain injury is especially common in sports. If possible, avoid contact sports and wear a helmet when needed. For children and older adults, make sure living spaces are easily accessible to avoid falls.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

Many people who are active run the risk of experiencing issues with the iliotibial (IT) band, which is a band of ligaments that run along the leg, from the outside of the knee up to the hip.7 

ITBS is a common injury, especially for runners, in which the IT band becomes tight and inflamed. Pain could be experienced anywhere from the hip to the outside of the knee.

To keep your IT band protected, make sure to wear the proper tennis shoes and slowly increase your mileage when walking or running. You should also be aware of the surface you’re exercising on.           

How to Avoid Injuries

Many exercise-related injuries can be avoided by proper instruction and execution. Here are some additional tips to avoid common injuries while exercising.8

  • Warm up before a workout and cool down afterward. It’s important to warm up your muscles and get your blood flowing before a workout. Make sure to cool down afterward with simple stretches for your muscles.
  • Practice your form and posture. Practicing proper form and good posture daily is one of the most critical aspects when it comes to exercising. A trainer can help introduce you to new methods of exercising and the right form.
  • Listen to your body. If you’re tired or feeling worn out, take a break from exercising. It’s important to listen to your body and rest when you need it. Rest allows your muscles to recover.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating a healthy diet is beneficial not only to your physical health but overall health. Protein will help strengthen your muscles and a clean diet will allow you to maintain your weight more easily.

Practice Safe Exercise Today

Take the time today to exercise or do a workout that you enjoy. Many exercise-related injuries can be avoided by taking the time to learn about your body and the exercise you’re performing. If you’re worried about a physical condition or what activities you’re physically able to do, talk with your doctor.

As a healthcare organization, Saber Healthcare recognizes the importance of healthy and safe physical activity. We encourage residents and staff members to remain active to ensure they’re living a healthy lifestyle and meeting their goals. Our physical and occupational therapy teams work with residents at the communities we serve to restore balance and promote movement.

Saber Healthcare is an organization that provides services to more than 115 buildings across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Delaware, and Florida. To learn more about our company and services, click here.

Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.


  1. “25 Common Workout Injuries: How To Treat and Prevent Them.” Fitzmaurice Hand Institute, Accessed August 25th, 2022.
  2. “Herniated Disk (Slipped, Ruptured or Bulging Disk).” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed August 25th, 2022.
  3. “Shoulder Pain and Problems.” University of Rochester Medical Center, Accessed August 25th, 2022.
  4. “Top 10 Most Common Sports Injuries.” UnityPoint Health, Accessed August 25th, 2022.
  5. “Common Sports Injuries.” American Academy of Family Physicians, Accessed August 25th, 2022.
  6. “Brain Injury Awareness: Learn About Brain Injuries.” Saber Healthcare Group, March 11th, 2022. Accessed August 25th, 2022.
  7. Fox, Jennifer. “10 Most Common Gym Injuries (and How to Prevent Them).” Active Network, November 3rd, 2017. Accessed August 25th, 2022.
  8. “7 Common Home Workout Injuries and How to Prevent Them.” TH Medical, Accessed August 25th, 2022.