Weight lifting is one of the most iconic exercises of them all – throughout history, people have engaged in weight lifting to make themselves stronger, increase their muscle mass, and develop their fitness. It can be a fantastic way to take control of your body’s abilities and your appearance, but for its many benefits, it also has some essential risks involved. With proper knowledge and sensible behavior, anyone can enjoy the positive effects of weight lifting.
While many injuries are preventable to a certain degree, wear and tear along with recovery plays an important role in overall lifting health. Injuries can often cause discomfort and a lack of motivation when it comes to overall lifting performance.
As we age and put more miles on our bodies, injury prevention and overall recovery play an even greater role in physical health. The number of potential injuries from lifting can be nearly limitless but there are certain injuries that are extremely prevalent in the lifting community.
4 Weight Lifting Injuries that are too common
The knee is generally assumed to be a particularly vulnerable joint to damage from weightlifting, particularly squats or any exercise which puts sudden extra pressure on the leg. There is some truth to this as the knee is a relatively inflexible part of the body, with limited options for movement. Sudden, jerking movements executed without proper form can easily tear the connective tissue in the knee or stress the joint affecting your balance and comfort. This can be prevented by ensuring your feet are planted squarely before any exercise and lowering yourself evenly, with equal pressure on each leg.
Oftentimes lifters will give the excuse of persistent knee pain as the reason they avoid heavy leg movements such as squats. However, with proper mobility and warm-ups along with protective gear such as knee sleeves, one can generally avoid knee pain and injuries.
Almost every weightlifting exercise will put increased and unfamiliar weight on the back which is the frame supporting all the muscle groups in your upper body. Deadlifts, bench presses, rows, and curls can all result in strain on muscles and tendons, even torn ligaments in severe situations. The best way to prevent this is to remember the old adage – “lift with your knees and not your back”! Form is essential and you should never begin a rep without confirming your back is straight, supported, and engaged. Proper stretching before and after a set can also increase the elasticity of your back and reduce any unpleasant strains.
It is much safer and more effective to properly deadlift 225 pounds than 405 pounds with a rounded back and improper form. Lower back injuries typically occur due to poor posterior chain strength which should be an essential part of every person’s training regimen.
An increase in bodybuilding style exercises over pure strength-based lifting in recent times has resulted in a focus on developing the definition and appearance of specific muscle groups. Incorporated into a well-rounded routine, this will not be an issue, but exercises that isolate the shoulder muscles and upper body can result in disproportional stress to key joints and soft tissue. The key to avoiding hard to identify damage to the shoulders is to avoid an over-reliance on weight lifting machines and ensure you’re regularly rotating your exercise regime to ensure that pressure is being distributed evenly across a variety of areas.
Using improper form and/or overloading the bench with too much weight may result in the overuse of the front deltoid as opposed to the activation of the pectoral muscles. Concentrate on not flaring out the elbows; keeping them tucked at a 45-degree angle the entire time instead.
Also, be sure to retract the scapula and dig your trap muscles into the bench prior to performing the lift. Shoulder injuries tend to be one of those nagging injuries that never go away even with surgery and become progressively worse as the years go on.
Neck And Spine Stress
If you are approaching your lifting routine safely you should never have to worry about serious damage to your neck and spine. However, the reality of the range of movements involved in the most common lifting exercises means that sloppy form, overloading on your weight limit, or pushing yourself beyond the point of fatigue can result in mistakes slipping into your movements and causing a sudden sharp pain to these areas. Poor posture and loose grip are the easiest way to cause injuries of this type, so it’s imperative to approach every set with the same focus and attention to detail as your first.
Weight lifting is an exciting opportunity to transform your body and change your life, and if you act smart and think ahead about the potential risks, you’ll be able to reap the rewards in no time at all