Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating on the Faculty of Exercise and Sport Science, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing advice for better life. Follow him on Twitter.
Resistance training or weightlifting isn’t dangerous, rather pretty safe. However, missteps can make it unsafe.
Also, microtraumas in the muscles tend to pile up over the years and it’s what often causes an injury. It may happen that you had a busy day or a wild night out and hadn’t rested your body properly. You get up and go to the gym, where an injury can occur because your focus is impaired and you don’t feel fresh and truly prepared.
Injuries, discomfort, pain, and various microtraumas may result from things such as trying to lift too much weight, overuse of the muscles, or doing a lift improperly. Body parts that suffer most often are the upper back, lower back, shoulders and knees, because these areas of the body are the ones most used in weightlifting.
If you don’t take the right precautions, lifting weights will become a dangerous way to exercise. Here, we describe some of the most common injuries caused by weightlifting, as well as some advice for treating them in case they do occur.
When Do These Injuries Occur?
- Neck and upper back injuries occur due to poor posture. In order to prevent spine injuries, fix a hunched over back.
- The rate of lower back injuries rises when extending the lower back under very heavy loads. The spine should be kept neutral.
- Shoulder injuries increase with bodybuilding-style programming, excessive machine use, and excessive reps.
- Knee injuries occur when they don’t track properly during the lifts. You want your knees to be healthy, so keep them from collapsing inward.
Most Common Weightlifting Injuries
This condition happens when the cushions between the vertebrae (bones with a complex structure located in the vertebrate spinal column) either rupture or slip out of place. The most likely weightlifting related cause of a herniated disk are deadlifts, if you try to use your back muscles instead of the muscles in your legs to perform the exercise. To treat it properly, one should rest and avoid activities that require lifting or bending and use heat and ice to relieve the pain. Massage and stretching exercise may also help to improve the symptoms of a herniated disk.
Rotator Cuff Tears
The exercises that could cause a tear to the rotator cuff are the same ones that may lead to shoulder impingement syndrome. However, a rotator cuff tear is a condition much more serious. Once the tear occurs, the lifter immediately feels intense pain, may feel a snapping sensation, and his or her arm will become weak. In order to treat this injury, surgery may be required. Otherwise, you can restore strength and flexibility to your shoulder by performing rotator cuff strengthening exercises, icing the injured shoulder 2-3 times a day, and resting the joint as much as possible.
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
This injury results from overhead lifting exercises, such as shoulder presses, bench presses, and lateral raises. It is caused by an inflammation of the tendons around the rotator cuff and the first symptom is usually pain in the side of the upper arm and the front of the shoulder. At first, the pain will be evident only when raising the injured arm. However, pain can also occur after exercising or while lying down in case the injury worsens. The condition can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and some exercises – working to reach your thumb up and behind your back and stretching in a warm shower.
Also known as jumper’s knee, it often occurs due to the overuse of the quadriceps muscles. When stress is added to the knee, it may cause inflammation of the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone. Exercises that can potentially cause this injury are lunges, squats, and any weightlifting involving the legs, and it’s marked by sharp pain at the base of the kneecap. You can prevent leg muscle atrophy with heating pads, perform physical therapy exercises for restoring muscle flexibility and pain-free joint range of motion, or even have a surgical intervention.
Back Sprains And Strains
Sprains and strains in this particular area of the body are common, since many lifting routines require the use of the back. A strain implies torn muscles or tendons, while sprains involve stretched or torn ligaments in the back. Both cases result in swelling, pain, and trouble moving the back. Back sprains and strains are treated by icing the injured spot (heat can be applied only after 2-3 days of icing, after the initial swelling is gone), taking NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs), supporting your back with a girdle or belt, and building up strength with physical therapy.
To prevent these injuries from occurring, you should apply ice packs after training, as well as eat foods or take supplements rich in Omega-3 fatty acids in order to reduce inflammation. Never forget to stretch before you start lifting, and if you notice any kind of pain – don’t ignore it.
Continuing to lift in spite of pain can only worsen the condition.