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A Physical Therapist’s Guide to Avoiding Workout Injuries

Whether you’re motivated by a New Year’s resolution, you just signed up for your first road race, or you want to get fit to play with your grandchildren, workout injuries are always a risk.

Let’s take a look at some common workout injuries, ways to prevent those injuries in the first place, and treatment options if you do get hurt.

A Physical Therapist’s Guide to Avoiding Workout Injuries  

If you’re among the 45% of Americans with the goal to lose weight or get in shape each year, listen up! When it comes to starting a workout plan, the key to sticking with it is starting with a realistic goal. We know you’re excited, but shooting-for-the-moon will only get you so far and can lead to burnout or injury from being too aggressive too soon.

Some studies show that only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. So, this year, your Twin Boro physical therapy experts invite you to do things a little differently.

Instead of setting overly ambitious goals – like running a marathon in March when you haven’t run a mile in the past three months –  increase the probability for success and decrease risk for injuries by setting small incremental realistic attainable goals.

Common Workout Injuries 

Some common workout injuries we see include:

  • Muscle pulls and/or strains (injuries to the muscles or tendons)
  • Sprained ankles (injuries are to the ligaments)
  • Shoulder injuries (ex: rotator cuff, dislocations)
  • Knee injuries (ex: patella tendinitis, ACL injury)
  • Shin splints (often caused by sudden increase in the frequency of exercise)
  • Tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon)
  • Wrist sprains and/or dislocation (often caused by a fall on an outstretched hand)

But, just because you’re not at the gym doesn’t mean you can’t injure yourself. Over the past year with so many people working out at home during the pandemic, whether that’s with a new online routine or lifting weights in the garage, we’re seeing a few spikes in injuries, such as:

Thankfully, preventing these common injuries is easier than you think.

Prevent Workout Injuries 

Doing too much, too soon can lead to workout injuries that will only set you back in your quest for a healthier you. So, when you decide on a goal, the important thing is to map out your progression safely.

We understand. Holding back can be tough to do when you’re ready to start a new workout class or return to your activity after a sports injury. No one plans on getting an injury, so, the first step is prevention. Here are a few tips:

  • Slow and Steady. To prevent workout injuries, it’s key to gradually increase activity and schedule adequate recovery time. One guideline to keep in mind is to increase your workout time, distance or weights by no more than 10 percent each week. This slow, but steady, approach will keep you moving forward and help you reach your fitness goals in no time!
  • Warm Up and Cool Down. Make sure each workout begins with a proper warm up (to increase your heart rate and loosen muscles and joints) and ends with a cool-down (to bring your heart rate back down and increase flexibility).
  • Mix It Up. Don’t be afraid to mix things up. Maybe that looks like: cardiovascular activity (jogging) on one day, strength (bodyweight calisthenics) on another day, and low impact (yoga) on the next. Either way, vary your workout routine to prevent burnout and repetitive injuries such as tendinitis.
  • Use the Right Equipment. Using a chair for dips? Make sure it’s sturdy and not going to collapse on you first. Hooking a resistance band around a door handle? Think again. Proper equipment is important, but this also includes shoes. Working out in just socks, for example, may increase your risk of slipping and falling.
  • Focus on Technique. Before starting a workout routine at home, do the research and understand the proper technique for each exercise. Be vigilant about your form. You can even check your form with a video analysis or a trusted training partner.
  • Recover. Take time to recover after exercise. Static stretching, dynamic stretching, and foam rolling are all strategies to help you maintain and improve your mobility.
  • Listen to Your Body. Don’t be afraid to modify an exercise and always listen to your body. This includes recognizing signs of fatigue, soreness or pain and taking appropriate recovery time in between workouts. No matter how smart you are with progressions, workout injuries can still happen. And unlike the old saying, “no pain, no gain”, pushing through pain and inflammation can worsen the injury. So, if you start to feel more than typical workout pain or soreness, it is advised to stop and rest.  Assess what should be done differently in the future.  For severe pain and swelling seeking out the advice of a physical therapist specializing in health and wellness related injuries is advisable.

Treatment for Workout Injuries at Twin Boro Physical Therapy 

If you’re starting a new exercise program, don’t be afraid to ask your physical therapist for more insight on how to determine the appropriate level of activity you should start at.  From there level specific exercises can be determined.  Proper mechanics of those exercises should be illustrated along with instruction regarding how the body should react to those exercises.  As always, realistic attainable goals for the wellness program must be established.  Most of all keep it fun.

Get the individualized attention you need at Twin Boro Physical Therapy. Our professional therapists provide personalized treatment and hands-on therapy to not only help you reduce pain and recover, but also provide in-depth patient education on proper exercise technique to help you prevent future injuries.

We have 27 convenient Twin Boro Physical Therapy locations throughout New Jersey. Each location uses our proprietary One2Four advanced physical therapy technique that helps us identify an individualized path for each patient. We’ll get you back on your feet and ready to workout out again in no time!  Read more about our One2Four approach >>

Read more on our blog:

Why Choose Twin Boro Physical Therapy 

Having won a Best in NJ Readers’ Choice in Physical Therapy recognition, Twin Boro has provided NJ residents with high quality physical therapy and rehab for more than 38 years! It’s our award-winning approach, proven results and reputation that sets us apart. By incorporating the One2Four program into each patient’s program, the latest and most reliable scientific research and techniques is incorporated into effective evidence-based practice, we deliver only the highest standard of care with the unique One2Four approach.

It’s no surprise that Twin Boro Physical Therapy has also been voted the best physical therapy practice in New Jersey by the readers of

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