The Hidden Dangers Of The Gym!

Posted on September 1st, 2013 at 3:14 pm by


It is universally accepted that getting fit is something to be applauded, nevertheless, there are hidden dangers lurking in the classes, machines, and exercises, which could leave you with a nasty injury.

Here is a guide on how to make sure you get fit safely and make the most of your gym experience.

There are two main types of injury: traumatic and progressive.  You are likely to get a traumatic or sudden injury if you lift a weight that is drastically heavier than you can manage, or if you twist your ankle falling badly.

Progressive injuries have the potential to be nastier as they build up over time.  This is often caused by exercising while your body is misaligned, which puts unhealthy stress on your joints.  Warming up before exercise helps to align your body but it is also essential that you get some training on how to use the equipment before you begin working out, to ensure your posture is correct.

Below I will list some ‘problem’ exercises, classes and machines, which beginners and even some that experienced gym-goers, should avoid or take extra care with.

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Be wary of…

Rowing machines

Rowing machines are great fun and beneficial once you know how to use them.  Unfortunately, they are one of the most misused machines at the gym and as a result, the cause of many back injuries.

You have to remember to push using the power of your legs, instead of taking all the weight on your arms.   Also, you should keep your back straight and head facing forward.  Imagine you are rowing on an actual river; you wouldn’t sit hunched and staring at the floor – all of this will help you to straighten your back, decreasing your risk of back injury.


The kettlebells have a certain amount of danger inherent in their design.  Basically, they are heavy weights that you swing through the air.  As a result, beginners should be wary of them (particularly the heaviest weights).

Due to the swinging motion, you can easily lose control and this is why it’s important to stick to a manageable weight.  You also have to be careful to only swing them whilst your back is straight and never to lift them with a bent back.

This exercise is designed to target the glutes and the quads so you should not feel strain on your shoulders.  Your arms just provide the stability for the exercise but the actual momentum should come from your hips.

Mount Everest treadmill incline

The strange thing about treadmills is that it’s surprisingly easy to attempt running up ‘virtual hills’ that you would never attempt in real life.  It makes sense in a way because if you can’t see the hill, you’re bound to feel a bit braver than a runner confronted with the looming presence of The Alps might feel.

What many people don’t realise is that running up a steep hill, if you are unfit, can put a lot of stress on your back and lead to back problems.  Try to stick to a 5% incline as a maximum.

The behind-the-neck lat pull-down

For this exercise to be done correctly and safely, you would need extremely flexible shoulders.  As a result, this exercise is near impossible for most people and attempting it could lead to Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, which is a very painful condition where muscles or tendons in your rotator cuff become trapped in your shoulder joint.

My advice would be to pull the bar down in front of your head, to about where your collar bone is. This is a much safer exercise, which still works the same muscles.

Exercise classes

An exercise class pushes you to work harder than you would on your own and if you are still quite unfit, it can encourage you to work too hard and potentially injure yourself.  There is something about having an instructor leading a group that makes anyone reluctant to sit out, even if they are in pain.

There are of course exercise classes for different levels but novices should try and avoid things like ‘Bodypump’, where high intensity cardio is combined with weight lifting.  This is an extremely high tempo class and very unforgiving on an unfit body.

Faulty equipment

With hundreds of people using these machines every day, it is possible that they will become faulty every now and then.  If this causes you any injury, you may be able to make an accident claim.

Most importantly, you want to go to the gym to get fit, not to get an injury.  As long as you ensure that you can use the gym effectively then your chances of getting injured are slim.  The gym should be a positive experience- for mind and body!

Do you know of any potentially dangerous exercises, classes or machines?  Do you have any tips for gym novices?  Why not share in the comments section below?

About the Author

Gavin Harvey is a fitness fanatic who knows how to look after himself when injured. His degree in Sports Coaching has given him the ability to know when he will get hurt before it happens. He writes for The Accident Specialists.

Image by Mike_Fleming.  License: Creative Commons

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