Cardio machines can cause injury, no matter whether you use them to warm up or if you use them for an hour-long workout. Even treadmills can be dangerous and cause life-threatening injuries. However, the majority of injuries are minor and you can avoid them when you take extra care. Here are some examples of machines and tips to help you stay safe when using them:
“Tennis elbow” is the most common injury when people have used this machine, as it causes damage to tendons in the elbow. The muscles in the tendon can be irritated under intense pressure. When you row, do not grip too intensely and keep your wrists neutral.
Tennis elbow is also caused by bad mobility in your neck and upper back. This can be treated by doing stretches with a foam roller. Cross your arms over your chest, lie back with the middle of your back over the roller for 30 seconds, three times.
You can also try working out with resistance bands.They can increase stability in your shoulders and upper back. Put the band around a fixed object and hold the handles level with your chest. Pull them towards you while squeezing your shoulder blades together and back. Do 15 reps of these in three sets before any rowing, shoulder, back or chest workouts.
If you run at an incline over 1% on a treadmill and you are either a forefoot or midfoot striker, you risk overloading your achilles tendon. Adding this to any weaknesses in your knees or hips will make this worse. Try increasing your speed and distance slowly and including free-weights in your session. You can also try crab walks, split squats and lightweight squats each for three sets of 15 reps.
Knee pain is often caused by bad form on a bike. Forces from hamstrings and quads that are out of sync result in feelings of grinding or clicking. The kneecap is then dragged from side to side, instead of up and down, on the knee joint and this will lead to friction. To prevent this, you can set your bike up differently. Ensure the cranks are vertical, your lower leg is partially bent at a 155 degree angle from your knee, and tighten the clips round the balls of your feet.
Foam rolling can also help with mobility, so try massaging your back and legs three times a week for 15 minutes.
Address issues with flexibility
The machines mentioned above mainly work out the arms and legs, so the body itself remains still and stable. However, many movements you do on machines can result in injury, such as pulling too hard on a rowing machine or shifting your pelvis on a bike. Working out your core to strengthen it will help prevent the risk of injury from cardio workouts. Do some high-intensity planks, where you engage your abs, chest muscles, glutes and quads, for ten seconds in three sets. Then do squats whilst holding an empty barbell above your head also in three sets of ten seconds.
Curtis. A and Rider. S, ‘Injury-Free Cardio’, Men’s Fitness magazine, August 2015.