How to Prevent Injuries that Will Derail Your Progress
For one thing, it can make you stronger, as expected, helping you to overcome obstacles in other types of exercise (running faster, throwing farther, jumping higher, etc.). But it can also help you to create the physique you’ve been trying for (whether it’s bulking you crave or simply a frame that features better muscle tone) and even lose weight if that’s what you want (muscle burns more calories than fat). And that’s just the beginning.
Weight lifting, when done improperly, can also result in a slew of injuries, most of which can be easily avoided by warming up and cooling down, building up to greater weights or more reps over time, using proper form, listening to your body, and asking for help from a spotter.
Here are just a few common weight lifting injuries that are best avoided:
Sprains and strains.
Many people do not know the difference between sprains and strains, but they can be equally painful and hard to recover from, depending on where they are.
Sprains occur when ligaments (which attach bone to one another) are stretched or torn, while strains result when muscles or tendons suffer the same fate. Although these conditions may not be terribly serious, as opposed to other types of injuries, they do require some down time for recovery.
The specificity of the muscle injury is important when it comes to rest and rehab. While sprained ankles and strained shoulders are certainly uncomfortable and annoying, a sprained or strained back could be much worse simply because your core is needed for so many types of movement, making it easy to reinjure during the healing process.
This is an unfortunate and painful condition that occurs when one of the cushioning discs between your vertebrae ruptures, bulges, or slips out of place. It can cause back pain due to pressing on spinal nerves, but it can also travel throughout your body wherever those nerves go, often down your legs.
Sadly, the only real treatments for this condition include allowing it to heal on its own, perhaps with the aid of physical therapy, or surgery. It is most commonly caused in weight lifting by using improper technique, so remember to lift with your legs and not with your back!
Many dedicated lifters suffer from injuries to the rotator cuff area. In some cases you may experience pain due to inflamed tendons in this area, a condition known as shoulder impingement syndrome. But you could also go so far as to tear your rotator cuff if you continue to perform the same exercises (or work through the pain).
Both types of shoulder injury, impingement and tears, are typically caused by repetitive motion, often with weights that are too heavy for the lifter to manage. Again, trying to “work through it”, could mean surgery or worse – you may never be able to bench press or shoulder press again.
You likely know this condition better as a bruise. And while it might not sound like a big deal, the swelling and pain caused by dropping a weight on yourself can definitely make it harder to work out until the injury heals. Plus, you’ll be lucky if all you get is a bruise when you are forced to drop your weights and they hit you on the way down.
I regularly suffer a form of contusion that just doesn’t matter – scraping of the shins during a max effort deadlift. Yeah, it bleeds. Yeah, it hurts. But I’ll do it again next week. I guess some injuries are less debilitating than others.
If your body is functioning properly, the ligaments around your joints hold your bones in alignment. Unfortunately, trauma to your joints can cause damage to ligaments and result in bones that are out of place. Ouch.
When this happens you really have no choice but to see a qualified medical professional to have the joint realigned, which usually entails a trip to the emergency room (let’s just say it’s not something you probably want to deal with on a teacher or security guard salary). Healing time may be extensive and often requires PT to regain strength in the area, but your joints may never be the same after dislocation occurs.
Paying attention to warm ups, stretching, and form, can minimize all of this injuries, and can even completely prevent a couple of them. Listen to your body when it tells you to stop. Warm up properly before you train heavy. And make sure your form is dialed in on each and every rep. If you do these things you might not prevent injury, but you will minimize it, and that will make all the difference in the world.