5 Most Common Weight Lifting Injuries And How To Treat Them

By:    Published: September 15, 2011

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Many people lift weights, whether it's to build muscle mass, tone their body or boost their metabolism. It's a fun way to work out that keeps your body and mind challenged. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous way to exercise if you don't take the proper precautions. Pain and discomfort may result from several things, such as doing a lift improperly, overuse of the muscles or trying to lift too much weight. This article describes some of the most common weight lifting injuries that you'll want to look out for, along with a few tips for treating these injuries if they should occur.

There are several common injuries found among weight lifters. These occur in the areas of the body which are used the most often in weightlifting, such as the back, shoulders and legs. This list details the most common weight lifting injuries, including how they are caused and the symptoms that are often experienced along with them:

1. Shoulder Impingement Syndrome:

This injury is caused by an inflammation to the tendons around the rotator cuff in the shoulder. This is typically caused by any overhead weight lifting activities, such as lateral raises, bench presses and shoulder presses. Typically, the first signs of this injury are pain in the front of the shoulder and the side of the upper arm. The pain will first be noticeable only when raising the arms, but if the injury worsens it may cause pain while lying down or after exercising as well. With shoulder impingement syndrome, the pain will stop before the elbow. Pain extending beyond the elbow may indicate another problem, such as a pinched nerve.

2. Rotator Cuff Tear:

A tear to the rotator cuff may occur with the same exercises that could cause shoulder impingement syndrome. However, a tear is a much more serious condition that comes with intense pain immediately after the tear occurs. The arm will become weak and a snapping sensation may also be felt. Depending on the severity of the tear, surgery may be required in order to treat this injury.

3. Patellar Tendonitis:

This injury involves inflammation to the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone. It is often a result of the quadriceps muscles being too tight or overused. This adds stress on the kneecap, which causes the inflammation. The condition is marked by pinpoint pain at the base of the kneecap. Hack squats, lunges and any weight lifting with the legs can potentially cause this injury.

4. Back Sprains and Strains:

Because many weight lifting exercises require the use of the back, strains and sprains in this area of the body are common. Sprains involve torn or stretched ligaments in the back, while a strain affects torn muscles or tendons. In both cases, pain, swelling and trouble moving the back easily are common symptoms. Rows, bench presses, dead lifts and curls are some of the exercises which may cause these types of injuries.

5. Herniated Disk:

Another injury common among weight lifters is a herniated disk. This condition occurs when comes of the cushions between the vertebrae in the backbone either slips out of place or ruptures. This can be caused by trying to lift heavy weights with your back muscles rather than the muscles in your legs. Because of this, dead lifts are the most likely weight lifting-related cause of this injury.

How to Treat your Injuries

There are several steps that weight lifters can take in order to help prevent these common injuries, including:

  • Always be sure to stretch your muscles well before you lift weights. Making sure that your muscles are warmed up before your workout begins is a great way to avoid strains, sprains, tears and other common weight lifting injuries.
  • Reduce your swelling by taking anti-inflammatory medications. You can also take supplements or eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, as these are known to help with inflammation. You can also apply ice packs sparingly to help reduce swelling.
  • Often, weight lifters make the problem worse by continuing to do these exercises even when they begin to feel pain. One of the best steps for weight lifters in preventing injuries is to be aware of their body. If a weight lifter begins to feel a new pain, especially if it is felt during a specific movement or exercise, they should consider taking a break from their workout. Even cutting back on painful activities may help in giving your injuries time to heal.
  • If your pain does not subside after taking the steps listed above (or if you experience a more serious injury such as a rotator cuff tear or a herniated disk), see a doctor right away. You may need to discuss your options with physical therapy or surgery in order to treat your injury successfully.

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