No one joins the gym to get an injury. 

From your client’s perspective, it is something they don’t want or need. It interrupts their plans, sets them back, and is another hurdle they have to overcome before they have any chance of reaching their fitness goals.

From your perspective, it is a hiccup in your day and it causes a disruption to your schedule. Worst case, you may lose a client, or even your career.

While you do care what happens to your client, you still need to run your business. It is a delicate balance of concern and pragmatism.

 It is better for both of you to avoid injury.

Setting expectations

When you start to work with a client, they are feeling gung-ho. They have made this momentous decision to work-out with a personal trainer, they are expecting things to happen and, in their head, you’re going to work wonders from day one. 

The temptation for them is to do too much, too soon.

As a first step to avoiding injury you have to somehow put the brakes on without bursting the bubble of their enthusiasm.

Giving them a clear guide of what your plan is and where they can expect to see developments and changes is a good first step.

Form is critical

A lot of the injuries which you will see in the gym, are the result of bad form. 

By emphasizing good form and posture you are helping the client avoid a series of possible injuries over time.

 A client must also understand good posture is essential through the rest of the day. Sitting round shouldered at a computer all day, and then stressing muscles further is a recipe for an injury.

Low Back Pain

When you start to work with a client, low back pain is a factor you need to take into consideration, because there are so many things which could exacerbate it.

In the first couple of sessions with the client look for a rounding of the back, and keep the weight well within their zone.

Avoid overhead dead lifts until you really have a feel for the client. If you’re working with someone with a history of back injury, avoid all twisting exercises until you’re confident they are going to safe.

Work to build the entire core.

If someone is out of shape, then core exercises will make sure they know they are working out.


Knee pain comes in all sorts of ways. I

In the gym it's usually too much weight and too many reps.

For runners, too much of one thing like running downhill can cause it, even the wrong shoes can put a massive pounding on the knees.

During the inflammation period there is nothing to be done, other than to let the inflammation subside.

Ice and rest are the best prescription.

Deep squats are to be avoided, but a quarter squat might be ok.

Shoulders – the rotator cuff

The shoulder is a complex set of interconnected muscles, but the most common injury is to the rotator cuff.

The usual causes of injury are the normal suspects; too much and too many.

You can help avoid shoulder injuries by doing some exercises which train the cuff in isolation to increase movement and strength.

Keep the resistance low enough to keep the deltoid and pectoralis muscles from doing too much work.

Plantar Fasciitis

It is impossible to have a discussion of common gym injuries without the elephant in the room, plantar fasciitis.

It seems to be more common than ever before. The cause is as simple as too much stress on the ligament which runs under the foot.

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop the problem so if you’re working with overweight clients keep and eye open to the possibility. Distance runners are also at risk.

Help avoid the issues by building calf muscles but also make sure there is plenty of stretching because tight calf muscles are as worrisome as weak ones.


A hamstring injury is a bigger nuisance because it causes ripples everywhere else.

The usual cause is overstretching and of course, the repetative too much, too soon.

The way to avoid them is to warm up and ensure the muscle is stretched out before you put pressure on it.

All of these stresses and strains have something in common.

They are muscles and ligaments so it makes sense that they do.

As a result the things we do to help one, in a lot of ways will help them all:

  • Warming up – giving muscles a chance to get used to the idea work is on its way is a good idea. Going from zero to everything doesn’t give a muscle the chance to adjust and is going to have an effect at some time
  • Posture – good posture is essential not just while working out but throughout the day. People sit round shouldered at computers all day, and cell phones don’t help. Good posture is a must
  • Equipment – shoes, clothes, bands, belts are all helps in preventing injury. Encourage you clients to the best they can go with. If the client is a runner, make them change their shoes every 300 miles or so.

Your part in this is being the professional trainer.

Good advice, a steadying hand, and the knowledge they need to make the program work. 

Sometimes your best is all you can do, and the unfortunate does happen.

According to the U.S. Consume Product Safety Commission, there were almost 460,000 reported fitness injuries in 2012. 

Approximately 50,000 reported injuries were caused by low weight and equipment. Group fitness instructor insurance can help protect your career from lawsuits related to fitness injuries. 

If you do find yourself in this situation, hopefully you and your career are covered. If you haven't already protected your career for up to $1 million dollars, you can do so in under five minutes here!

About the Author Nicole

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