HIIT Related Injuries: How to Prevent or Mitigate Them

High intensity training such as HIIT has many benefits, but it's important to be careful when performing these exercises if we want to avoid injuries.
HIIT Related Injuries: How to Prevent or Mitigate Them

Last update: 12 March, 2020

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, can have great physiological benefits, but it also has some risks. Let’s go over some HIIT related injuries and how we can reduce the possibilities of becoming affected by them.

HIIT: what does it consist of?

This way of training has become quite trendy in the last few years. It consists of performing physical efforts during short periods of time, resting and then repeating the process.

By demanding a lot from the body in repeated periods, we try to acclimate our large muscle groups to performing those efforts. This means that the right HIIT training can develop muscle mass and prepare other structures in the body to endure effort peaks in our daily lives.

On the other hand, we also increase the maximum oxygen volume that we can store in our lungs. As if this wasn’t enough, this type of training burns more fat in less time than regular aerobic exercise.

However, as you can imagine based on this brief description, HIIT isn’t for everybody. Since it demands a lot of effort, it’s not a good option for older people, those who are prone to injuries, those with cardiovascular issues or people who are complete beginners to working out.

It’s true that older people and beginners can adapt basic HIIT training sessions and increase the intensity after a while. However, going from a sedentary lifestyle to working out regularly should be a careful process. The body needs to be prepared to make efforts that we wouldn’t demand otherwise.

With all of the previous information in mind, it’s no surprise that even people who are active and work out regularly can suffer an injury while doing HIIT, just with any other sport.

Two girls warming up to avoid HIIT related injuries

The most frequent injuries are those that we can imagine: from sprains to muscle overloads; muscle tears in more serious cases, dislocations and soft tissue injuries such as tendons and ligaments in general.

In all of those cases, we’re talking about injuries that have to do with the tissue’s inability to endure the demanded effort. This reinforces the idea that, if we want to prevent HIIT related injuries, we must prepare our body for each effort level that we climb.

As mentioned earlier, the first thing we have to do is be prepared. This includes performing the exercises for as long as needed before increasing the seconds of effort, as well as respecting the resting periods.

However, it also means that we must perform an efficient warm-up before starting. This is one of the most frequent causes of injuries, and therefore, the most important point.

Other recommendations we must keep in mind are:

  • Stopping if you feel any pain. Tiredness and fatigue are understandable, but going beyond what feels comfortable can be counterproductive.
  • Having an adequate technique. It’s vital to make sure we’re performing the exercises correctly before repeating them several times or at a fast speed.
  • Taking care of our diets. The body should be able to recover after the huge and repeated efforts that we’ll be putting it through. Therefore, a diet that helps us do this is essential. This means that people who are on a hypocaloric diet should avoid doing HIIT.
A woman putting away her healthy groceries after doing HIIT
  • Avoid rushing your progress. Keep in mind that HIIT is a very demanding modality. Therefore, trying to complete sessions that are longer than originally planned can increase the risk of injuries. Doing HIIT too many times per week can also have the same effect. Respect the resting period that your body needs to recover. Three sessions per week would be the recommended maximum.

Other recommendations

Lastly, this is another indispensable tip: always place yourself in the hands of professionals. It’s very important that a personal trainer designs your routine after performing the necessary tests. They’ll guarantee that your body is able to endure a certain volume of physical load.

On the other hand, there are also gym classes that incorporate HIIT exercises. But if you want to have a 100 percent high-intensity training, be careful with generic sessions. It’s always better to perform a list of exercises that adapt to your physical condition and goals.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) for patients with chronic diseases. Ross L, Porter R Larry, Durstine J. Journal of Sport and Health Science. Volume 5, Issue 2, June 2016, Pages 139-144
  • One session of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) every 5 days, improves muscle power but not static balance in lifelong sedentary ageing men: A randomized controlled trial. Sculthorpe, Nicholas F et al. Medicine vol. 96,6 (2017): e6040.
  • Entrenamiento de intervalos de alta intensidad (HIIT) en adultos mayores: una revisión sistemática. Piqueras P, González M. Pensar en Movimiento: Revista de Ciencias del Ejercicio y la Salud. Vol. 17 Núm. 1 (2019).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.