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When Can Potential Weightlifting Injuries Happen (And How to Reduce the Risk)

When you enter the gym, train at home or in the open air, many of you don’t suspect about the potential weight lifting dangers of physical exertion. That doesn’t usually come down only to risk of injuries when you perform exercises technically incorrect. When there’s an absence of a specifically conformed plan or proper body recovery, health-issues can result too. Find out when can potential weightlifting injuries happen and how you can reduce the risk.

Weightlifting injuries as result of false performance technique.

Of course, as many sports practitioners know, performing an exercise incorrectly is frequently the most common weight lifting injuries reason Often, the technique can be disrupted due to excessive weight on the fitness equipment (that’s when the risk is doubled). However, it has also come to my attention that another frequent reason can simply be the lack of knowledge of how the technique should be executed properly. Naturally, that’s normal, because nobody was born taught, this is a skill that has to be learnt. The sooner you realize that you couldn’t possibly see a technique once and start doing it flawlessly, the better for your well-being (except if you have a lot of experience and hours in the gym under your belt).

Particularly dangerous are the exercises without waist support or the ones that involve the spinal column – dead lift and squatting with weights, or exercises from stance/ bent position and more. Not that other body positions and exercises can’t be dangerous, but the risk of gym injuries is considerably smaller.

That’s why it’s pivotal to ask for the fitness instructor’s guidance when you’re about to do a certain exercise for the first time. After that, you could also watch different videos of the technique for extra analysis.

NOTE: be sure you watch the tutorial of a credible trainer!

Start performing the exercise slowly and with lighter weight to ease the clean execution. If you wish, you could also shoot a video of yourself, so you can later watch how if you perform the moves correctly or you need to fix something. Here’s a fact: people who make videos of themselves while training, report that it helps seeing things from a different perspective and having an easier time spotting their errors and rectifying them.

Setting the proper basics in the beginning is essential. Why? Because if you learn a move the wrong way, you would develop it as a motor stereotype and eventually have a harder time breaking the bad habit of the wrong model and learning the right one.

Even if you don’t “suddenly” injure yourself, you could create a micro-traumatism in your muscles, tendons, joints, and strings. In time, that could easily grow into a chronic inflammation (Tendinitis, Bursitis, Periarthritis), wearing out of the joint cartilage (arthrosis), exostosis, and more.

Gym injuries as result of excessive weight

Weight lifting can be most dangerous when injuries occur as a result of lifting too heavy.

The most serious contusions happen when people are aiming at lifting too much weight. On the other hand, if you want more notable muscle buildup, you would have to use relatively high weight. How can we understand when the weight is optimal and when it’s too much for us?

First, and foremost, your technique of performance in your heavy sets should not differentiate from your technique in your lighter sets (as long as it’s done correctly, of course). Even if your technique is good, if you lose the “mind-muscle” link, you create inertia moments, or you at times feel like you don’t have control over the weight, or you struggle to preserve a good technique – you most certainly have gone over your head when it comes to total weight. Reducing it is mandatory, because physical trauma occurs in a split of a second when you least expect it and you wouldn’t have time to react.

A weightlifting injury as result of improper warmup.

The warmup prepares the body for the upcoming exertion. The pulse speeds up a little, so that the cardiovascular system can meet the enhanced need of the body for energy and oxygen. The sympathetic nervous system also gets activated which facilitates the better flow of nerve impulses to the muscles. The endocrine system also increases the production of some hormones etc.

There’s a lot of debate regarding the correct way to warm up. Some suggest light cardio, others – stretching or joint gymnastics. The thing is, you can spend an hour warming up in this way, but you miss an essential part of the warmup, you could still injure yourself. This part should represent the exercise you’re going to perform but with lower intensity and weight. If it’s the first exercises you perform in your session, the warm-up sets should be at least 2-3 with gradual increase of the weight.

For instance, when you squat with weights, you first have to do some squats only with your bare body weight, then 2-3 sets only with the barbell and gradually increase the weights. If the current exercise is not first in line in your training program, but it does include the same muscle group, only at different angle, you should also do a warm-up set. Only exceptions should be exercises with low intensity and with your own body weight.

If you’re having a cardio session, you should also start with a lower pulse rate pace, especially if you have а cardio interval training ahead of you. If you visit the gym regularly enough, you would most likely see a fitness rookie get on the treadmill and start running as fast as they can, on the brink of their capability. What that does, is abruptly raise the heart rate to peak point, which in combination with obesity is fairly dangerous, because it could trigger heart-related issues.

A gym injury as result of fault fitness equipment

Injuries that originate from disrepair equipment are also not that seldom. Most common cases of damaged appliance could be torn steel wire ropes (cables) of a pulley. I’ve witnessed a broken wire during seated cable rows, when the guy made a backflip and hit the adjacent appliance. Another wire rope break incident happened when a bodybuilder was doing regular pulldowns and nearly split opened his head. Therefore, you should also check the equipment for an apparent and visible technical damage before usage (especially if you’re in a gym with older equipment). That doesn’t necessarily protect you against an accident, but definitely reduces the risk.

Injuries due to carelessness (yours or your training partner’s)

For the time spent in gyms, I’ve witnessed a thing or two, so here are a few examples about injuries related to carelessness:

Exhibit A)

During his rest between 2 sets, a gym visitor left two 30kg dumbbells on the bench, just beside him. While talking on the phone, one of the dumbbells rolled and fell on his foot. He was wearing flip flops, so you can imagine the outcome of this incident. The lesson is:

1 – the bench is not a place to leave dumbbells

2 – Flip flops are NOT an appropriate footwear for training (not that a trainer would have shielded him from the impact, but it would have reduced the damage to some extent).

3 – The gym is not a place for phone conversations, it’s a place for workout.

Exhibit B)

Another guy, after finishing a hard set on the Smith-machine, was so much in a hurry to hang the barbell on the hooks, that he couldn’t do it. Fortunately, the restrainers that he had set preliminary, saved him from guillotining himself. The lesson is:

1 – Always be careful when you hang the hooks of the Smith machine or else weightlifting injury may occur.

2 – Always set the restrainers on the necessary level

Exhibit C)

There was one guy who was talking on the phone, when he passed by another who was doing a side lateral raise with dumbbells. The result? He got away with a lightly chipped-tooth (still think the gym is a place for phone talks?)

Exhibit D)

Incidents happen on the treadmill too. Once I saw a woman get “thrown off” the track (if that hasn’t happened to you before, but you really want to see it happen, just go to Youtube and type in: “treadmill falls”). The lesson is:

1 – If you’re doing cardio and you’re bored, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be focused and careful.

2 – Fooling around on the treadmill isn’t the smartest idea either.

Exhibit E)

I’ll give myself as an example here as well. I’ve been a victim of incidents twice. The first time I was foolish enough to take a look at who’s entering the gym, while doing an exercise for trapezius. Then I spent the next 3 weeks with a twisted neck. The lesson is:

1 – Always look straight forward when you’re doing an exercise (especially if you’re doing one for trapezius).

Exhibit F)

The last example I’ll share with you involves me again, only this time the carelessness wasn’t mine, it was my training partner’s. He got distracted when he was supposed to watch over me while I was performing a classic bench press. The aftermath – a trauma in the coracoacromial ligament that took 6 months to heal properly. The lesson is:

1 – When you’re helping or watching over someone while they’re exercising is a great responsibility. Your friend has literally entrusted you with their well-being, so always be as concentrated as you possibly can.
Weightlifting injuries happen out of the blue and can be serious, so we always have to be on the alert.

A health-related issue, born out of other health related issues.

What does that mean? It means that certain medical conditions impose certain limitations regarding the execution of specific exercises and the use of higher intensity that can lead to rotator cuff, knee, shoulder, back, weightlifting wrist injury and different other physical traumas.

If you don’t conform with such limitations, you risk worsening the problem or creating an entirely new one as an addition.

For example, if you have a herniated lumbar disc or another neurological problem, you shouldn’t be performing without any support of the lower back or from stance with greater weight. You should also avoid exercises with twisting, running, flipping and more.

In case you have a curved spine condition (like: scoliosis, lordosis, flat back syndrome kyphosis etc), the exercises and training method have to be entirely in conformity with the specific spinal curve and the concomitant muscle imbalance, or else the training sessions would aggravate the condition or may even create another weightlifting injury that you don’t expect.

In different cardiovascular issues (like: high blood pressure, tachycardia, or cardiovascular insufficiency), you should, first and foremost, consult with a competent health care provider and your training shouldn’t be carried out with a very high heart rate, otherwise you increase your risk of having a health problem that goes beyond the most common weightlifting injuries.

Whatever condition you have, it’s always important to pick the brain of a health specialist who can build you a special training program in accordance with your condition and to introduce you to the contraindications.

Health issues due to improper training methods and overtraining

The training methods is a combination of: specific exercises, their count, sequence, volume, intensity, rate and more.

The methods should be aligned with your goals, your experience, the capability for recovery, etc. It’s often a great mistake to copy the training schedule, program and methods of a professional bodybuilder or other type of athlete, or to borrow a workout program from internet/magazine, without scrutinizing it from your own perspective. How could that hurt your well-being and potentially cause weight lifting injuries?

The subjection to greater physical exertion, which is more than your body could handle, sooner or later, leads to overtraining. The condition could vary from light indisposition to more severe conditions that include: tachycardia, irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, immune system collapse (causing frequent illnesses and increased predisposition to infections). The way out?

To test and learn from how much physical load you can properly recover your body and to watch out for the above mentioned overtraining symptoms.

Being burnt out can be either general (for the entire organism), or local for a specific body area that is not expressed with the above enumerated symptoms. For example, you decide that your biceps aren’t keeping up with the rest of the muscle groups and you start working them out more often and with greater intensity (maybe you also read somewhere that some famous bodybuilder does the same, without taking into account their years of experience, recovery rate, supplements, medications etc…).

In your case, if you don’t take time to recover, you’ll have an adverse effect – worse results, accumulation of micro-traumas, inflammation of muscles, tendons and ligaments and more injuries that can happen in the gym.

If you’ve recovered from the previous workout session, at your next one you should be at least just a little stronger or more tenacious. That would mean more reps with the same weight, increased weight, lower heart rate at the same cardio exertion (or the same heart rate at greater exertion). And every time you feel the initials signs for overtraining and your accomplishments and results are taking a hit, give yourself 2-3 days of break.

Workout health issues due to insufficient intake of vital nutrients

Essential nutrients are those that the body cannot produce from other sources, but must be obtained in sufficient amounts through food (and potentially through supplements) i.e they are irreplaceable for your constitution and their shortness can could bring different health problems at your door. Essential nutrients are indispensable amino acids, (like BCAAs), vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids and water.

Workouts increase your need for these type of nutrients and if you don’t acquire them, you speed up cell ageing. You could also upset the hormonal balance, create a mineral deficit, hypervitaminosis, disrupt the immune system, increase inflammation processes after workout and more.

That’s why the intake of enough essential nutrients should be with high priority when you train regularly and want to prevent gym injuries. For instance, if you want to shed off a few pounds through sport activity, your food has to be in conformity with your workouts. Even in a reduced caloric intake, you should still obtain the necessary essential nutriments in adequate amounts. Therefore, if your diet is poor in them, before including weight loss supplements (such as Garcinia Cambogia), you should include amino acids or a powdered grass fed or organic protein supplement, vitamins and minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

At last, but not least, you should make sure you drink enough water. Average water consumption recommendations vary a bit, but all in all, adult males should drink around 2.5-3.5 liters of water, while females should drink 2-2.5 liters daily.


In conclusion, me and the Organic Power Foods team would like to once again advise you to take into account the reasons for potential weight lifting injuries and other associated health issues, as well as how to reduce the risk of them occurring.

Nick
Nick
Nutritionist and Health Enthusiast

I’m Nick – a nutrition enthusiast who takes his healthy lifestyle at heart, and an avid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athlete. Being the main author and founder of OrganicPowerFoods.com, I’m constantly looking to expand my experience and knowledge of food, health, sport, and organic living, so I can become the best version of myself, and help others achieve the same.

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