Exercise Injuries: How to provide a safe training environment

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague of mine was training a woman who was about to go on vacation for a week in Florida. Because she was flying out the next day, my colleague decided to play it safe by having her client do mountain climbers instead of burpees. The client ended up tearing her Achilles tendon and she was not able to go on her trip.

Accidents will happen (sometimes fatal) and some things you simply can’t predict or have any control over. My colleague still felt terrible about it even though it wasn’t her fault. Exercise injuries are unfortunate, but they can and will happen.

All you can do is ensure that you provide your clients with a safe training environment and prepare yourself to deal with emergencies.

Here are 3 things you can do to minimize the risk of injuries.

Select appropriate exercises

Are plyometric exercises the best thing to do for an overweight client? Are endless crunches the best way to train someone’s abs?

Before you make a client do a certain exercise, ask yourself this. Is there an alternative exercise that is safer but just as effective?

Gray Cook introduced the term self-limiting exercise to describe exercises that are almost impossible to do wrong. Once the weakest link breaks down, you have to stop the exercise. Some examples would be the Farmer’s Carry, Inverted Row, or Jump Rope.

Always be aware of your surroundings

Is there anything your client could possibly trip over? Will people walking by get in the way? Where’s the best place for you to stand in case he stumbles? Do you know how to properly spot her during specific exercises?

Be proactive when choosing your space. Make sure that there is enough room for your clients to perform the exercise without distraction.

When doing single leg exercises where your client could lose balance, stand on the side of the working leg. She will be able to catch herself with the non-working leg, but not if she falls the other way.

Make sure proper form is used for each rep

Don’t be afraid to cut a set short if he see that the client is struggling with a weight. Make it clear very early on that quality trumps quantity. You are just reinforcing bad form and risking injury by letting him continue on with the last few reps.

What to do when an injury occurs

Don’t panic. Your client may be in shock. He needs you to remain calm and to be in control of the situation.

You should have some form of first aid training. It’s a pain to renew it every few years, but you will never know when you will need it. Repeating the same things every time you take the course gets boring, but repetition is what engrains the skills so that they become instinctual. Under these circumstances you don’t want to risk being paralyzed in thought. You need to react immediately to get your client to proper medical attention as quickly as possible.

You can’t let this fear of hurting someone get in the way of pushing your clients to become stronger and better. You are being paid to get your clients to do things that they may not do themselves. This extra little push is what helps drive results.

By selecting appropriate exercises, being aware of your surroundings, and ensuring your clients are exercising with proper form, you can be absolutely sure that you are providing your clients with a safe and effective service.

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