How to avoid injuries - Part 11

Squat, bench press, and incline bench press stations should incorporate safety bars that the barbell can rest on if you fail on a rep.


Keep your wits about you

Don't just be concerned about what you're doing in the gym. Be aware of what's happening around you, and stay clear of danger.


Wear appropriate footwear

Shoes with thick, spongy soles and heels may be fine for some activities, but not for strength training. A spongy base won't keep your feet solidly in position. Especially when you're squatting, deadlifting, or overhead pressing, if your feet move just a little, the rest of your body will move, too. It doesn't have to be much movement to throw you out of the correct exercise groove. But don't train barefoot. Your feet need support while you're training, but it needs to be support of the right kind.

Function comes first in the gym. For strength training in general, get yourself a sturdy pair of shoes with good grip to the floor, arch support, no more than the standard height of heel (and preferably no height difference between the sole and heel), and which minimizes deformation when you're lifting heavy weights.

But for deadlifting movements in particular, and also squatting, no heel elevation relative to the balls of your feet is especially important, because heel elevation increases stress on the knees in those exercises. Furthermore, for deadlifting, shoes with elevation will increase the range of motion, and if your heels are elevated more than the balls of your feet, that will encourage poor lifting technique because they will throw you forward somewhat.

Worn shoes can lead to deviations in exercise technique. Discard shoes that have unevenly or excessively worn soles or heels. Ideally, have gym shoes that aren't used for other purposes, so that the shoes keep their shape and condition for years. Furthermore, when you train, keep your laces tied properly. (But avoid overtightening your laces or otherwise you may develop foot problems from running or walking, for example.)

Even a small change in the size of the heel, or the relative difference between the heel and sole thicknesses of your shoes, can mar your training. This especially applies to the squat and the deadlift, although a change in balance factors can have a negative effect on some other exercises, too.

For cardio training, especially running, be sure that your footwear is appropriate. It won't be the same as what's ideal for deadlifting, for example.

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