One of the most common injuries that occur in the gym is to the feet or ankles and you are especially at risk if you aren’t used to the various training machines that are available.
As the days grow shorter and winter sets in, the joys and benefits of outdoor training suddenly aren’t so appealing whilst those expensive gym memberships start looking good value for money when you are pounding the pavement on a freezing cold morning or trying to do triceps dips on a wet park bench and so a lot of people sign up with their local gym until spring arrives.
Whether you are new to keep fit or you have been training outdoors over the summer, you need to take it easy on your first few visits to the gym to avoid strains, sprains and even stress fractures to your feet and ankles. If you do feel any kind of pain to the ankles and feet you should stop straight away and get it checked out.
Make sure you have suitable training shoes and socks which are a good fit. Non-slip cotton socks are known to prevent blisters than can become infected and you don’t want to be trying to break any personal records on the free weights wearing a pair of light running shoes.
Use the machines as they were designed to be used and if on the free weights use good technique – don’t use the momentum of the weights to help you.
Dr. Gerald Mauriello, a podiatric surgeon at the Advanced Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute claimed in a recent article that one of the biggest health risks to your feet at the gym is from bacteria.
“It’s best to cover cuts and cracks in the skin or ingrown toenails since these minor tears in the skin’s surface can act as entry points for bacteria,” says Dr. Mauriello. “If you have a cut or scrape that becomes red or swollen and is not healing in a timely manner, don’t hesitate to see a foot and ankle surgeon.” Read the full article here.
A well known London gym I worked at had an outbreak of athletes foot and it took a lot of scrubbing as well as time to educate the members on how to avoid spreading it to each other so I would have to agree it is certainly a risk you should be aware of.
Pool decks, showers, the exercise machines, even your own training shoes are going to be a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and fungus including strains like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which are drug resistant and Dr. Mauriello recommends wearing water shoes in any wet areas to avoid picking up any nasty surprises.
Most of us can manage with a sprained wrist, a pain in the shoulder or other similar injury but damage to your feet or ankles can literally have you laid up for weeks. Don’t risk it, if you feel any pain or twinges stop the exercise and get a medical opinion.