Is gym membership also a ticket to the emergency room? A 2016 National Electronic Injury Surveillance report shows that many fitness devices have a higher rate of injury. These are the pieces of gym equipment that send the most people to the hospital, ranked from least to most injury-prone. You’ve likely used the machine that sends the most people to the ER (page 10).
12. Resistance bands
- 2% of women’s equipment-related visits to the ER
- Injures your face and eyes
This gadget is great for resistance training. But, as the NEISS report points out, it can also send you to the ER with an eye injury. In fact, if a band slips or breaks and hits you in the eye, you could be at risk for eye inflammation and vision loss.
Next: You won’t suspect this “innocent” equipment.
11. Your yoga mat
- 2.3% of all equipment-related ER visits
- Injures muscles and joints, especially wrists
We’re not joking; a yoga mat can cause serious injury. In addition to slipping or tripping on it, many people use a yoga mat for exercises and workouts other than yoga. What they really need: an exercise may. Best In Yoga explains that an exercise mat is a couple of inches thicker than a yoga mat. This protects your body during floor and body-weight workouts, as well as cushion a potential fall. A yoga mat simply provides a thin layer of traction to keep poses stable.
Next: Think outside this dangerous box instead.
10. Plyo box
- 3.2% of all equipment-related ER visits
- Injures joints, especially knees
This cube-shaped piece of equipment can cause a lot of pain, and not just from all those difficult box jumps. In addition to stubbing your toe, box jumps wreck your knees, resulting in cartilage damage and even meniscus tears.
Next: Freedom of movement comes with a price.
9. Free weights
- 4% of equipment-related ER visits
- Injures the feet, back, and shoulders
Free weights come with a warning label. “Dropped barbells and dumbbells are among the most common and cringe-worthy causes of gym injuries,” Sports Medicine Physician Michael Jonesco tells Men’s Fitness. It’s no wonder they account for 7% of ER visits in women’s injuries and a whopping 11% in men’s.
Next: Want to work out with this equipment? You should be careful.
8. Medicine ball
- 6.2% of equipment-related ER visits
- Injures the head and back
If you don’t know how to use this CrossFit-friendly contraption, you may get hurt. As DailyBurn points out, many twisting exercises involving a medicine ball require unnatural movement — and back and torso injuries. (The torso is the most injured body part among both men and women in gym-related ER visits.)
Next: As if the exercise itself wasn’t difficult enough
7. Pull-up bar
- 6.7% of equipment-related ER visits
- Injures wrists and shoulders
Although the pull-up bar seems like it can do little harm, it’s actually a dangerous weapon. Men’s Fitness reveals using too much momentum while doing a pull-up can result in the bar coming unhinged and falling. Even if the bar doesn’t move, improper form can result in wrist and shoulder ailments.
Next: This popular machine does more harm than you expect.
- 6.8% of equipment-related ER visits
- Injures the upper torso
While this gym staple seems like it’s easy to manage, the constant repetitive movement involved in working the ever-popular elliptical machine can wear on your muscles and joints. The NEISS says the torso is the most commonly injured body part from elliptical use.
Next: You may be surprised at how dangerous this device is.
5. Jump rope
- 8% of equipment-related ER visits
- Injures the head and lower legs
Sure, your jump rope seems harmless. So why does the NEISS say this exercise device constitutes 5% of equipment-based ER visits for men and 10% for women? Calf cramps and shin splints. And you can really hurt yourself if the rope hits the back of the head.
Next: This equipment is the focus of many boutique gyms.
4. Stationary bike
- 10% of equipment-related ER visits
- Injures the upper torso, knees, and hips
This popular gym machine can give you a good lower body workout, but it can also badly hurt you. Livestrong reports improper form can cause you to develop debilitating knee, hip, and back injuries.
Next: This machine is as dangerous as it looks.
3. General exercise machine
- 11% of equipment-related ER visits
- Injures the joints and back
Many exercise-related machines look like torture devices. The restrictive nature of this equipment can put your back and knees at a great disadvantage and lock your shoulders and elbows into weird positions. Many people use them improperly, resulting in nasty injuries.
Next: Before you lace up those boots…
- 14.3% of workout-related ER visits
- Injures limbs, especially wrists and ankles
Your hiking boots may not exactly be “gym equipment,” however hiking is an accident-prone workout. From sprained ankles and broken wrists to dehydration, the activity must be approached with knowledge and foresight. Make sure to invest in supportive hiking shoes.
Next: This is the gym equipment with the highest injury rate
- 36% of equipment-related ER visits
- Injures the lower torso, arms, legs, and head
It’s probably the most well-recognized exercise on the planet. But it’s also the most dangerous. According to NEISS’s findings, the treadmill accounts for 35.6% of gym-related visits to the emergency room. As EllipticalReviews.com summarizes, “More than 1 in 3 workout-related ER visits in 2016 with and without equipment involved running and treadmills.”
Next: You need to be careful about these pieces of gym equipment, too.
1. Rowing machine
Other pieces of gym equipment can cause injury, too.
When it comes to the rowing machine, the form is everything. When used properly, it can give you one of the most comprehensive upper body workouts. But with improper form, you set yourself up for low back pain, knee and joint problems, and even stress fractures on your ribs.
Next: This equipment can end up punching YOU.
2. Punching bag
As Livestrong tells us, training with a heavy punching bag puts pressure on the bones from your fingers up into your shoulders and can manifest into injuries with constant repetition. Your lower body is also at risk; the NEISS information says knee injuries are the most common ailment connected to gym-related ER visits.
Next: Ring the bells — but do it the right way.
If you lose your grip while swinging a kettlebell, someone may get hurt. Improper form can result in the kettlebell coming loose in the air, dropping on your head, and warranting a doctor’s visit.
Next: One of the most misused machines around also causes significant injury.
4. Pull-down machine
The Cheat Sheet has targeted this misused gym machine before. When used improperly — pulling the bar behind your neck instead of in front of your face — it can leave you in major pain. “The lat pull-down places a lot of stress on the anterior joint capsule of the shoulder, and can eventually lead to impingement or even rotator cuff tears,” therapist Jessica Malpelli tells DailyBurn.
Next: A surprisingly dangerous contraption!
5. The scale
We know what you’re thinking. This isn’t a piece of gym equipment! However, you will always find a couple of scales at the gym. And those devices can do some damage! Scale-related ER visits are more common among Baby Boomers (17% of injuries) and the Silent Generation (60%), with most injuries coming in the form of lacerations to the head or fractures.