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Exercise Injuries


A New Year often brings a New Year’s Resolution to improve your health and fitness. In these strange pandemic times, and in particular during this latest Omicron surge, the urge to exercise might lead to the purchase and use of at-home exercise equipment. Due to Covid, at-home exercise injuries resulting in a visit to the ER increased by 48% from 2019 to 2020. Treadmills and exercise bikes were the equipment most associated with at-home injuries.

Interestingly, 28% of the at-home work-out injuries occurred in the >65 age group. Experts attribute this high percentage to the fact that this demographic has: (1) diminished flexibility; (2) loss of muscle mass; and (3) worsening balance.

Estimates put the total number of people that end up in the ER from injuries caused by exercise equipment at over half a million annually, with 40,000 of those injuries critical or fatal. People might recall several high profile accidents related to treadmills: one involved the 4 year old daughter of Mike Tyson, and another involved Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey (his wife, Sheryl Sandberg, subsequently attributed his death to a heart condition, and not to him falling off the treadmill on which he was exercising, hitting his head and suffering head trauma and blood loss, however).


The most common types of injuries from exercise equipment are: over-exertion; knee injuries; face and eye injuries; head and brain injuries; and spinal cord injuries.

Over-exertion might sound relatively harmless, but it can actually cause serious, life-threatening harm. For example, a young healthy person in her 20s decided to get fit and enrolled in a spinning class at a gym near her. She had not previously been exercising, and went from not working out to a strenuous cycling class. She developed a condition called rhabdomyolysis, which can occur when muscles become injured, breakdown, and release toxins too fast for the kidneys to cleanse from the body. If not treated promptly, rhabdomyolysis can cause kidney damage, kidney failure and even death. Luckily, she was hospitalized and treated successfully.


The type of injury suffered determines the defendant; put another way, if an exercise bike was faulty, then the manufacturer can be sued for product liability claims such as design defect and manufacturing defect, and the retailer who sold the bike might also have liability for marketing defect and a failure to warn. If the equipment was installed incorrectly, then the company/person who installed it can be sued. Negligent maintenance of equipment at a gym can also be a source of liability.

If you suffer an injury when exercising at a gym or at home, be sure to seek medical treatment even if you do not think you are severely injured. Injuries tend to worsen after the initial shock and trauma wear off, and getting medical attention is crucial to avoiding long-term harm. Document all medical treatment—what it is and the costs associated with it. Take photos of yourself and the faulty equipment at the time of the accident. Get contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident at a gym or if someone was with you at home, and follow up with the witnesses for statements. Document any lost wages. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.


If you or someone you know has been injured due to exercising in a gym or on at-home exercise equipment, contact Dave Thomas of The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
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