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If you're a newbie to the gym, it can be kind of confusing. What machines do I use? How much weight is too much or too little? Am I doing this right? Is this working? And the questions go on. But I'm here today to tell you that if you're given the option, either hire a personal trainer or talk to one of the CERTIFIED people at the gym.
I recently started going to the gym myself, as a New Year's resolution to get healthy. However, most machines aren't tailored to vertically challenged people like me (I'm only 4'11). So, usually, it's a little awkward for me. But the one time I adjust it so it's not that awkward, I end up with muscle failure in my back a few days later. Immense pain, emergency room visits, doctor's appointments, medicine... and all the while I'm just crying and suffering. I had pain in my back, sides, and abdominal area that left me debilitated. There was a time when it was so bad I was laying on my floor at my house just crying, unable to move, and in a ridiculous amount of pain. I didn’t even have the strength to pick up my phone to call my husband. All I had was my dog to keep me company until he got home. So, now I'm out of commission for an undetermined amount of time which means I can't work. So, I screwed myself pretty bad. However, there are ways to prevent this from happening to you.
1) Consider a personal trainer.
Or ask one of the CERTIFIED associates at the gym to show you how to do the machines. Major emphasis on the certified. You might hurt yourself anyways if the person doesn't have their credentials since they won't know the proper way to execute it for your height and weight either.
2) ALWAYS make sure your feet are planted in the ground.
This was actually a tip I got from my doctor. In my situation, I was fine so long as my feet were on the floor. The only kicker was that grabbing the bar behind me to do the crunch wasn't adjustable for my short arms. How I ended up injuring myself was by raising the seat to fill the space between me and the handle. But, my feet barely touched the floor, in turn hurting my back. I was also told to ask if they might have a step stool I can put my feet on as I do the machine to fix the gap while not sacrificing my health. So that's also an option if you’re short like me.
3) If it doesn't feel right, stop.
In hindsight, it didn't feel like it usually did, and felt odd. And then a week later I was in the ER. So pay attention to what you're doing and how it feels. It might save you from hurting yourself.
4) If you have any sign of any abnormality on your health, see your doctor ASAP.
My biggest mistake was putting it off, thinking it was a stomachache or I had slept wrong. If I hadn't done that, it probably wouldn't have gotten so bad. Listen to your body when you don't feel well; it's trying to tell you something.
5) In general, just be careful.
If you're unsure about a machine, but you don't want to ask someone, just steer clear. YouTube videos can also be of help when you have questions but may be too embarrassed to ask.
I hope this helps, and that none of you ever get this in your life.