How to Avoid an Exercise Mistake

One of the best reasons to seek out a personal trainer to aid you in your fitness regimen is to have a professional to guide you in the gym and avoid hurting yourself. But just what do we mean when we say “hurting yourself”? Here are a few of the most common exercise mistakes that can occur while working out improperly, and how to avoid an exercise mistake.

Exercise Mistake 1: Exercise-Induced Nausea–Vomiting While Working Out

This has to do with when you eat, in relation to your workout. While your muscles are performing work, your body prioritizes the delivery of oxygenated blood to your muscles so that they can perform the work that is required of them. Blood is diverted away from other areas, like your digestive system. If you ate just before a workout, that means that that meal is simply going to be sitting there like a rock in your gut, which can cause you to become nauseous and throw up. Avoiding this is really simple: you should eat about 2 hours before your workout. This gives your body enough energy from your food to actually perform your workout, and it gives your body enough time to digest most of what you ate. You can read more about the causes of exercise induced nausea here.

Exercise Mistake 2: Feeling Dizzy or Passing Out

There are a couple of factors that can cause this, but a very common one is improper breathing. While performing resistance-based strength training, folks have a tendency to hold their breath without realizing it as they strain against the weights. This creates a build up of pressure in your head and chest, which can cause you to black out—this is called the Val Salva Maneuver. If you are breathing properly, not enough food or water could also be the culprit. If you simply do not have enough glucose in your body to fuel your workout, or you are dehydrated, you will respond by getting dizzy. All of these factors can contribute, as shown on LiveStrong site.

Keep in mind: if you find yourself routinely becoming dizzy or losing consciousness while working out, it could be indicative of a more serious problem such as blood pressure or heart disease. Consult a doctor if you can rule out other possibilities or find that dizziness is a recurring problem during your workouts.

If you do get dizzy while working out, do not push through it. Stop and take a rest; failure to do so could cause you to pass out and injure yourself.

Exercise Mistake 3: Exercise Induced Headaches

An Exercise-induced headache, or EIH, is typified by its sudden onset. According to “Super Slow: The Ultimate Exercise Protocol” by Ken Hutchins, “ It begins as a dull, low-intensity head pain. This pain appears to arise from the back of the head during an exercise…within moments, probably during the next repetition, this pain rapidly intensifies and radiates over the top of the skull and into the orbit of one or both eyes. It is severely painful, and seems to cause squinting with the sensation of impending impaired vision.” EIH was described by one victim as “it feels as though an axe head pierced through the top of my skull.”

“Often, this pain does not subside, even with cessation of the exercise, although continuance of the exercise—or any exercise for that matter—worsens the accompanying throbbing. The condition usually debilitates the subject until the following day, although it sometimes continues for as long as two weeks.”

We still don’t completely understand what causes exercise induced headaches, but we do know a common thread among the people who experience it—when they first begin feeling head pain, they try to ‘work through it’. This is a painful mistake. If you start experience head pain during a workout, you should immediately let your trainer know, and take a break from working out. They will likely be familiar with EIH and may know how to recognize its onset. You should also let your trainer know if you show up to a session with a headache already. EIH is prone to recurrence, so if you have experienced it before, it can be a good idea to perform neck exercises before or after each workout until EIH abates.

Exercise Mistake 4: Pulled Muscles

A pulled muscle is the colloquial term for what is officially referred to as a muscle strain—this is a traumatic tearing of the muscle. This is a different thing from the normal muscle soreness you feel after an effective workout; that kind is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. You can read more about how to differentiate the two here. DOMS is caused by many micro-tears in the muscle fibers, which your body is more than capable of repairing on its own, and designed to be able to repair. In fact, it’s this tearing and rebuilding that causes you to get stronger, so without it, you aren’t actually strengthening the muscle.

So how do you tell whether you’ve strained something or are just feeling the normal effects of a good workout? For one thing, the pain will be more sharp and localized than with general muscle soreness. You’ll experience weakness and sharp pain in just one muscle or muscle group when trying to contract the muscle. You also may get swelling, heat, or bruising in the area, which does not occur with regular muscle soreness.

A muscle strain is the result of overworking the muscle. This can happen because you are attempting to move too much weight, when you move in an abrupt or jerky manner, or when you apply force while the muscle is overextended or twisted in a strange position. If you’ve ever sneezed while twisting to buckle in a seatbelt, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The way to prevent a muscle strain is to always move in a smooth, fluid motion, to know your limits when it comes to selecting weights, and to observe proper form while using the resistance equipment. Because it’s sometimes difficult to know how to do all of these things without the proper training, I recommend working with a professional personal trainer. A personal trainer is trained to recognize the safe range of weights for you, how to use the machines without injury, and how to guide you in using them safely with proper posture and range of motion.

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