Lifting weights is a great way to keep your muscles toned and strong, but it can also be a source of injury if you're not careful to practice safe lifting techniques. Below are four of the most common weight training injuries, along with some tips on how to avoid them.
1. Patellar Tendonitis
Description: If you've ever felt soreness, aching or unusual tightness in your kneecap area, you have probably experienced some level of patellar tendonitis. This common injury stems from putting excessive strain on the patellar tendon, which is the tendon that connects your knee bone to your shin bone. Once this tendon has been injured, it will become inflamed, causing quite a bit of discomfort in the kneecap area.
Prevention Tips: Improper form when doing squats or lunges is one of the main culprits behind patellar tendonitis. You have to be mindful not to allow your knees to extend beyond your toes when performing squats and/or lunges; instead, make sure that your shins remain completely vertical at the deepest part of the movement, and your thighs should stay parallel to the floor.
2. Herniated Disc
Description: This condition happens when the cushiony discs between the vertebrae in your backbone slip out of place, causing sharp, intense pain in the back. Herniated discs most often happen in the lower back area and are typically the result of poor lifting technique. You don't have to be a massive powerlifter to suffer from a herniated disc, either – this injury can happen even when lifting moderate amounts of weight because it's more a matter of form than anything else.
Prevention Tips: When picking up any kind of weight, always lift with your legs, and not with your back! In addition, make sure to only lift the amount of weight that allows you to still perform the exercise with proper form.
3. Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
Description: This injury is characterized by inflammation surrounding the rotator cuff in your shoulder(s). One of the first signs of shoulder impingement syndrome is
Prevention Tips: You have to remember that there are several muscle groups involved in performing lifting exercises with the shoulders and arms. Be sure to adequately warm up the entire shoulder and upper back area through dynamic stretches such as arm circles, or even jumping jacks. Be sure to use good form when performing overhead lifting or pressing exercises, executing your movements smoothly and at a moderate pace. In addition, avoid any overhead lifting exercises where your shoulders and arms are placed slightly behind you, such as behind-the-neck barbell presses.
4. Hyperextended Elbows/Knees
Description: Hyperextended elbows or knees can be easily identified because your body will immediately let you know when you're bending something the wrong way. This injury often comes as the result of jerky or jarring movements when lifting weights, and can cause dull, aching pain even well after the workout is finished. Common weightlifting exercises where hyperextensions can occur are barbell curls and hamstring curls.
Prevention Tips: Since limb extension happens during the eccentric (lowering down) part of the movement, be sure to take your time and lower the weight slowly, whether it's a dumbbell during bicep curls or a stack of weights on the hamstring curl machine. Avoid jerky movements, and don't allow your arms or legs to completely lock out after lowering the weight down; instead, always keep a slight bend in your elbows and knees to avoid hyperextension. Take it slow, smooth and steady!
Taking the proper precautions to ensure safe weight training can save you a lot of potential pain, and it will make your workout session much more enjoyable. Keep the above tips in mind to have a productive, injury-free weight training workout!