Common Mistakes in Exercise

Common Mistakes in Exercise


Allison Stringer, MS, PT, FAAOMPT, CHA

During exercise, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and ignore any pains or discomfort you may be feeling. Although exercise is an important part of staying fit and healthy, preventing injury is just as important. Before you get back into it, try to avoid these commons mistakes:

Missing the Warm Up

Injuries related to exercise and sports often occur due to improper warm up; to prevent this start, perform a dynamic warm up.  Dynamic stretching involves movements that increase heart rate, blood flow, deep muscle temperature, breathing, joint lubrication, and sweat while actively lengthen your muscles.  A simple dynamic warm up takes  5 to 10 minutes and includes head turns, shoulder circles, elbow circles, wrist circles, trunk twists, ankle circles, butt kicks, knee hugs, and calf pumps.  These are a great ways to start actively stretching your muscles and preparing them for exercise.

Lifting Weights Greater than Physical Strength

Often people return to excise too quickly, over train, and have inadequate rest and recovery between training sessions. Be sure you have the physical strength to lift weights with proper posture, form, and technique.

Start exercise without weight and include simple full body activities such as squatting, planks, step ups, push-ups, chair dips, and balance activates such as balancing on one leg.  Begin by using light weights and high repetitions to build a baseline of strength then gradually increase the weight and decrease the repetitions.

Other simple ways to add exercise into your life include parking further way from the door you are entering, taking the stairs, and walking to the water cooler once an hour to get an hourly glass of water vs. having 24 ounce bottle on the desk!

Poor Nutrition and Dehydration

Eat and drink for success. Poor nutrition and dehydration can lead to injuries. Remember the food we eat fuels our muscle. Avoid processed foods and sugars, remember to eat a balance diet of fruits, vegetables, whole gains, proteins, and healthy fats.

A simple rule of thumb for water intake is one half of your body weight in ounces plus one eight ounce glass of water per hour of exercise. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs use this formula: 150/2 = 75 ounces plus 8 ounces for every hour of exercise. Or shoot to drink one 8 ounce of glass every hour of the day while you are awake until you meet the amount of water in a day that meets your needs (and a means of getting more walking trips to the water cooler during the day!).


There is a difference between muscle fatigue and pain. Muscle fatigue is a transient feeling of discomfort accompanied by a loss in ability to maintain exercise intensity. Joint pain is isolated to a specific spot and is reproducible. Muscle tears or joint pain would increase if stress or stretch were added to the irritated structure; muscle fatigue is typically relieved by exercise and stretching.

Remember to give your body rests between intense exercise sessions, alternate days for different body parts.

Faulty Footwear/Support

Poor fitting sneakers and or broken down foot wear can lead to foot, knee, hip and back pain. Seek out advice from a local running store if you plan on returning to running. Remember running shoes are designed for running but weight training and other aerobic exercise have different demands on the body. Consider having a few different types of sneakers for exercise to include cross training shoes for aerobic actives and sneaker specific for weight training.

Skipping the Stretch

Remember to complete your exercise session with a cool down and safe stretching routine. Cooling down means slowly lowering your heart rate after exercising. Do this by walking around until your heart returns to a resting heart rate and return to normal breathing. For stretching, a foam roller is a good tool for the spine and chest. Try lying on your back for stretching the hamstrings and hip rotators as it is safer for the spine. Include stretching for your hip flexors, quads, and calf.


If you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort during exercise, physical therapy may help. To schedule an appointment with a Professional Physical Therapist, visit


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