(CNN)When the coronavirus pandemic forced gyms to close their doors last year, many people began working out at home. Soon, doctors were seeing patients coming in with a variety of home-gym-inspired injuries: lower back pain, ankle sprains, hamstring pulls and more.
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It's easier than you may think to get injured when you're working out at home, so you need to be mindful of the potential pitfalls -- because this trend may be here to stay.
A June 2021 Gallup poll showed that although Americans are getting out more frequently now, thanks to Covid-19 vaccinations, their trips tend to be to stores and restaurants. They are not going to the gym. That's not too surprising, as working out at home doesn't cost much, if anything, and offers the utmost in convenience.
If you've been exercising from home or are ready to give it a try, here are several things you can do to help ensure you stay injury-free.
Important note: Before beginning any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you experience pain.
Most people don't have a home gym, nor the space or money to create one. That's fine, because you can do plenty of workouts with minimal space and equipment. But that doesn't mean you can just start jumping around in your living room, basement or garage.
"Make sure you give yourself more open space than you think you need so you don't hit anything while moving -- for example, lunging and running into a coffee table," said Jumha Aburezeq, head trainer at StoopidFit, a lifestyle coaching platform.
Aburezeq said he also advises his clients to place a mirror in the area when doing resistance training such as weightlifting, as poor form is the leading cause of injury in this exercise category. And if you'll be exercising on a hard surface, have a towel handy to wipe up any sweat that drips on the floor. If you don't, you may slip.
Robert Herbst, a personal trainer and world champion powerlifter, said to check the ceiling height if you plan to raise weights overhead or jump rope, and clear the area of potential safety hazards such as throw rugs and wobbly artwork. "Throw rugs could cause someone to slip," he said, "and some pictures might fall off the wall from the vibration if you drop a kettlebell."
Working out in your pajamas might be convenient, but always don quality workout duds. Wearing cozy clothes can limit your movements and stress your joints, Aburezeq said, especially when doing active work such as an online high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, class.
Make sure you wear sneakers if you choose to wear anything, since it's easy to slip or trip when wearing socks or slippers. But going barefoot can work, too. Experts say there are benefits to walking around barefoot, such as a boost in foot strength, stability and balance.
And bare feet are better at helping you push off for certain movements, such as squats. However, you need to acclimate your feet to being unshod, and the floor must be f