If getting back into the gym is part of your New Year’s resolution for 2016, you’re not alone. Year after year, many of us resolve to be more active so we can feel healthier, look better, and live longer. While these are admirable goals, the hidden dangers of gym equipment may hinder some people from reaching them. Here’s what you need to know:

Death by Gym Equipment?

While gym equipment fatalities are relatively rare, they do happen. When Dave Goldberg, husband of Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg, died in a treadmill accident, gym-goers everywhere started looking at treadmills differently. All it takes is one fall in the wrong direction for an unprotected head to experience traumatic brain injury.

More common injuries are also associated with treadmills and other gym equipment. Falling off a treadmill, twisting your ankle on an elliptical, or not using a spotter for the bench press can all lead to an injury that takes you out of your routine for days or months.

Common Causes of Gym Equipment Incidents

Malfunctioning equipment can cause injuries, but most accidents are due to human error. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Lack of training. Most gyms assume gym-goers know how to use the equipment or will ask if they don’t know. However, many new and seasoned gym-goers never learn how to properly use the equipment. The wrong form, the wrong weight, or the wrong machine can increase the risk of injury.
  • Distraction. Sometimes, the only way to get through a really tough set is to go somewhere else mentally. Unfortunately, zoning out can lead to mistakes and injury.
  • Failing to rest and hydrate. Your body will tell you when you’ve had enough. Working out until you get lightheaded, dizzy, nauseated, or pass out can cause injury to you or someone else.
  • Poor gym etiquette and maintenance. A well-organized gym is maintained regularly for safety and enforces clear policies of gym etiquette. Gyms with scattered free weights, exercise balls, mats, and kettlebells have an increased risk of an accident or injury.

Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

You don’t have to avoid the gym to prevent an equipment injury, but maintaining a sense of awareness and using some simple safety tips can significantly lower your risk of injury. Here are a few general tips for a safe workout every time:

  • Focus on technique. Whether you head over to the free weights, a jump box, or a machine, learn the proper technique. Focus on using the right muscle groups, cushioning your joints, and keeping each movement strong and supported. You can add speed and weight once you become more comfortable with the way an exercise should feel.
  • Pay attention to other gym members. Kettlebells are a wonderful workout until someone lets go of one mid-swing. Keep a safe distance from others when engaging in potentially dangerous exercises, and watch out for individuals who seem careless or distracted.
  • Talk to the gym staff. If you notice something wrong with a piece of equipment, let a staff member know.

A commercial gym isn’t the only place to use caution. Maintain your home gym, too. Secure over-the-door pullup bars and follow instructions carefully. Use the tether on your treadmill every time you walk or run. Invite a workout buddy if you plan to use heavy weights or try out a new routine. With a few simple safety precautions, you can focus on your resolutions instead of injury recovery.

The West Virginia personal injury lawyers at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC wishes you luck in your New Year exercise commitments. If you ever have questions regarding gym safety and injuries, call or contact us online for a free consultation.