Sometimes the most difficult part of a new workout or crossfit regime is getting started. Not only do you need the willpower to commit to frequent and consistent workouts, but you also have to worry about the consequences of doing something wrong. Are these weights too heavy? Am I holding them correctly? How can I get the most out of my workouts without injuring myself?
Dr. Nekessa Remy found herself in a similar situation when she got serious about strength training. As a trained chiropractor who runs the Chiropractic Office & Health Associates in Mississauga, she was able to identify and avoid a lot of the common mistakes beginners can make.
Dr. Remy has since used her expertise to help educate others in injury prevention so they can get the most out of their training. In episode one of our new video series Move with Care, Dr. Remy breaks down some common strength training mistakes and how they can affect your musculoskeletal health.

Wrist Injuries

Dr. Remy has seen a lot of patients with wrist pain stemming from improper bench press technique. It’s important, she says, to maintain a neutral wrist position, meaning keeping your wrists vertical and straight so there is minimal pressure on the wrist muscles.
A demonstration of an incorrect bench-press position, highlighting the dorsiflexed wrists.

A demonstration of an incorrect bench-press position, highlighting the dorsiflexed wrists.

“Oftentimes what happens is when we go to lift the bar, we dorsiflex our wrists and that puts a lot of pressure on the small carpal bones in the wrist, which can ultimately lead to pain and injury,” says Dr. Remy.
Dorsiflexion of the wrist refers to the backward bending and contracting of your hand.
Dr. Remy says this is a common pitfall that weightlifters make which can lead to wrist pain and suggests making sure your wrists are held straight so that minimal pressure is put on your wrist muscles.
“When everything is in the right position, we’re able to better utilize the muscles in our forearm plus our chest to lift that heavy weight,” says Dr. Remy. “Once in the neutral position, you’ll be able to lift heavier and more effectively.”

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are common among athletes when doing an overhead press. Again, this often comes down to incorrect technique that, if corrected, would drastically reduce the likelihood of injury.
“What tends to happen when we’re doing an overhead press is we’ll arch our back thinking it will help us lift the weight,” says Dr. Remy. “But what’s happening is, not only are we putting more pressure on the lower back, we’re also relying solely on the shoulder muscles to push the weight up.”
This common mistake has led to several of Dr. Remy’s clients complaining about pain in their rotator cuffs, the group of muscles and tendons that hold your shoulder joint in place. When providing care for these patients, she emphasizes the importance of moving away from bad habits in the gym and educates them on proper form.
In this case, proper form involves activating your core muscles, standing up straight and pushing up, generating force from your core, as well as your shoulders.
“This is going to limit the amount of strain put on those rotator cuff muscles and hopefully reduce injury,” says Dr. Remy.

Knee Injuries

As a simple and well-known method for strengthening your lower-body, squat is a common workout exercise. Although they are relatively safe when following proper form, Dr. Remy has some additional advice to minimize knee pain.
Dr. Remy says she’s often presented with cases of patellofemoral syndrome at her clinic, which is a common consequence of incorrect squatting form.

Patellofemoral syndrome – commonly called runner’s knee – refers to a pain that develops in the kneecap that can cause irritation when walking, running or standing.

When you’re performing a squat, Dr. Remy says that buckled knees or an inability to lower your body deep enough can be due to reduced mobility in the ankle. This in turn, will increase your risk of developing patellofemoral syndrome. An easy solution according to Dr. Remy, is to elevate your heels by placing a small lift – such as a towel or weighted gym plates – under your ankles. This takes pressure off your knees and allows you to sink lower into your squats.
A weightlifter using weighted plates to raise their ankles while doing a squat.

A weightlifter using weighted plates to raise their ankles while doing a squat.

As both a chiropractor and an avid weightlifter, Dr. Remy’s seen her fair share of injuries sustained at the gym. Thankfully, her training has allowed her to help identify some of those injuries and recommend methods of treatment.
If you sustained an injury at the gym, Dr. Remy’s first piece of advice would be to consult with a chiropractor, who can examine your physical condition, provide treatment and suggest ways to mitigate the risk of future injury.
“As a chiropractor, we are able to identify, diagnose and treat all of these injuries,” she says.

Watch our full Move with Care video to learn more about preventing common strength training injuries. And if you have specific question about your pain or injury, use our Find a Chiropractor tool to locate a chiropractor near you.