The gym is an excellent place to work out. Not only do gyms offer state-of-the-art exercise equipment, but there are personal trainers available offer support and guidance. However, even with some level of oversight, the gym is not without inherent risks. According to Legal Match, there were an estimated 459,978 people injured by exercise equipment in 2012 alone, though some of that figure includes at-home equipment. So before you pump iron or pound the treadmill, consider the following safety tips:

“Some 459,978 people were injured by exercise equipment in 2012.”

1. Use weights you can handle: Lifting weights is a great way to strengthen muscles and improve your core. However, this exercise is also a fairly easy way to pull a muscle. As such, you need to work only with weights you feel comfortable with; if you’re ever unsure, err on the side of using less heavy dumbbells or plates. You can always add more sets to make up for the loss of weight. As an extension of this, never jerk the weights, as this puts added strain on your muscles.

2. Wipe down any equipment after use: No one wants to walk up to an inversion table and find it covered in someone else’s sweat. Not only is wiping down equipment hygienic and a common courtesy, but it’s also a great way to keep yourself safe. Sweat can cause you to slip while seated in a machine, and that can lead to a series of potentially harmful accidents. Proper wiping techniques can also help reduce the spread of the common cold or other viral  strains.

3. Always start slow: Despite how much energy or motivation you might have upon entering the gym, it’s a good idea to start slow with your exercise regimen. You want to begin with smaller weights and fewer reps then build up incrementally. Along the way, be sure to take five- to 10-minute breaks, which will help you cool down without ruining the progress you’ve already made in your workout. And don’t be afraid to stop and take additional breaks if you’re feeling tired or lightheaded.

Gym safety is crucial to an effective workout.
Gym safety is crucial to an effective workout.

4. Wear the right clothes: A proper workout is as much about the clothes you wear as the actual exercises you undertake. Loose or ill-fitting clothes can get stuck in the machines, which can be hazardous. Baggy clothes may prevent you from achieving the right form, a crucial component of most strength training exercises. If nothing else, consider wearing gloves to improve your grip. Some experts suggest replacing your gym or running shoes every six months depending on average use.

5. Drink plenty of water: Dehydration can prevent your muscles from properly contracting, which reduces muscle tone and interferes with your workout. Always be sure to bring enough water to drink before, during and after your workout regimen.

Like the old saying goes, no pain, no gain. Injuries are a common occurrence with any regular exercise routine. If you do pull a muscle or otherwise hurt yourself, you can always visit a CareWell Urgent Care location. With a staff of highly trained physicians at locations across the East Coast, CareWell is capable of treating any injury and getting you back to the gym in no time.