Weight lifting is no longer just for the guys who want to get huge muscles. Studies have shown that strength training is the most effective way to build lean body mass and to burn fat all day long. Men and women of every age lift weights these days, either using machines or free weights and while serious injuries are rare among weight lifters, there are a few injuries that can become serious among weight lifters - but the good news is that it is also pretty easy to avoid injury as as weight lifter.
Most Common Weight Lifting Injuries
Unless you are prone to dropping heavy weights on various parts of your body, pretty much the only injuries weight lifters need to worry about fall into two categories: muscle and ligament tears and joint problems. Let’s look at each of these separately.
Muscle and ligament tears
Strains and sprains are almost always caused by carelessness: either you’re lifting beyond your capability or you are using improper form. So the best way to avoid these types of injuries is to make sure you know what you are doing. Raise the level of weight you are using slowly and only progress onto the next level once you’re really ready. Also, become a student of form - the correct way and your way. What’s the best way to know if your form is on point? Ask a professional. Trainers are tested regularly on their knowledge of proper lifting form so pay the money to check in with a trainer at least once a month and have them focus on your form.
Joint problems usually occur when a specific joint is used over and over again in the same way. Over time, the cartilage that buffers the boney parts of the joint from one another may wear away and when that happens, bone rubs on bone and causes pain, inflammation, and, in some cases, may even impede movement. The best way to avoid joint deterioration is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, stay hydrated, and change up your workout routine. For example, if you always use the same machine for your shoulder workout, your shoulder joint is more likely to have trouble than if you were to use different shoulder machines each time you did your shoulder workout. Remember that our joint naturally deteriorate as we age, as well, so these problems are unfortunately more likely to happen the older you are.
There is one other category of injury we should also discuss when we talk about weight lifting injuries: back injuries. Back injuries may fall into the the “muscle and ligament tears” category above, but back injuries are also frequently the result of bulging or herniated discs (also sometimes called “slipped discs”). Discs are the squishy padding between the vertebrae in your spine. Not unlike the cartilage in your joints, the discs keep the vertebrae from grinding against one another as your spine bends and twists. If the disc starts to bulge past beyond its natural borders, it can press on nerves in the spine and cause pain, numbness, and tingly, in even remote parts of the body.
Bulging, herniated, or slipped discs can form slowly over time, especially if you have poor posture. They can also happen suddenly as a result of lifting too much or using improper lifting technique. The best protection against an injured disc in your spine is using proper lifting technique and keeping your spine healthy and flexible. How do you keep your spine healthy and flexible? We’re so glad you asked!
Keeping Your Spine Flexible
Here are the things you can start doing today to keep your spine healthy and flexible:
- Practice good posture, both in the gym and everywhere else.
- Make gentle flexing and stretching a part of your daily routine, at least a few times a day.
- Work on your core strength. When the muscles that support your spine are strong, they can help take the pressure off the spine. Yoga is a great way to do this!
- Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated.
- See your chiropractor regularly.
How Chiropractic Care Can Help With Weight Lifting Injuries
The best injury is the injury that never happens, right? So we’d love to see you before you get injured during a workout. We will help you align your spine and discuss proper posture with you, give you tips on building your core strength, and show you gentle flexing and strengthening moves you can do throughout your day. These things will help protect your spine from injury in the first place.
But we’re not just “back doctors”! Chiropractors work with the understanding that the parts of the body are connected: what happens to one part can affect another part. For that reason, we can also talk to you about gentle stretching and strengthening exercises for other areas of your body, like your ankles and hips.
Unfortunately, injuries happen to even the best prepared athletes. And if you get injured, we are here to help you on your road to recovery. Whether your injury is to your foot, your shoulder, or your back, we can help you recover faster and more fully - that is, be less likely to re-injure the same area again. We use stim machines, heat and cold therapy, massage, and chiropractic techniques to ensure that the rest of your body stays in optimal working condition while we heal your injury. Furthermore, we help you make sure that your injured area doesn’t become overly tight or weak from lack of movement or use while it is healing.
If you’re a weightlifter, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified chiropractors who can talk to you about preventing and treating injuries from weight lifting.