To help you train safely, healthy food retailer Muscle Food has compiled a guide on six of the most common injuries and how to avoid them.

It’s no doubt that, alongside a healthy diet, physical exercise is the key to a healthy body. But attempting exercise without expert knowledge can put you at risk of serious injury.

1 Ankle sprain

Sprains happen when the ligaments within the ankle stretch too much. This usually happens when you roll your foot, and most commonly whilst running and jumping. In order to avoid spraining your ankle, it’s important to work on balance. One easy way to do this at home is standing on one leg whilst brushing your teeth each morning. Whilst exercising, always be sure of your surroundings to ensure you do not roll your ankle on uneven ground.

2 Groin pull

Pulling your groin can come as a result of tensing the muscle too suddenly. This puts the area under a lot of stress and can over-stretch or even tear the groin muscle. It most commonly happens when changing direction whilst running, and it is a frequent injury in sports such as football.

The best way to avoid straining your groin is by stretching before exercising. Stretching lengthens muscles that tighten doing everyday activities, and therefore prepares them for exercising.

3 Shin splints

Shin splints are caused by stresses on the shinbone and the muscles that connect to it. Shin splints are avoidable when the right precautions are taken, but sometimes they can be caused by flat-footedness.

In order to minimise the risk of shin splints, it is important to wear comfortable and perfectly-fitting shoes. If increasing your exercise-load it is vital to build up the intensity of your workout gradually, this allows for your body to get used to the exercise-load.

4 Tennis elbow

Despite its name, only 5% of people diagnosed with tennis elbow (epicondylitis) get it from playing tennis. It is a repetitive strain injury, and is caused when the tendons in the forearm that connect to the elbow are stretched.

There are a number of ways to avoid the injury. Stretching is key to avoid developing tennis elbow. One method to avoid tennis elbow is holding your arm out straight and squeezing a tennis ball for two to three minutes on each arm every day.

5 ACL tear

Arguably the most serious of injuries on our list, an ACL tear can sometimes spell the end of an athlete’s career. The anterior cruciate ligament is a band of tissue that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone and, if torn, may require reconstructive surgery.

The damage can be caused when overextending the lower leg or falling awkwardly. In order to avoid tearing your ACL, it is important to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee joint. By strengthening the quadriceps at the front of the thigh, the knee joint becomes much more stable. One method of doing this is walking lunges.

6 Strained shoulder

Shoulder strains are common in exercise such as lifting weights, swimming and racquet sports where there is overarm movement. The shoulder tendons can stretch and tear through repetitive stress on the tendons or through sudden movements.

To avoid straining your shoulder, stretches to warm up the joint are key. In terms of lifting weights, it is vital that a good posture is maintained by keeping your back straight and taking a break every so often to stretch.