Strength training is used by many athletes to help strengthen and develop their body, and in the process reduce the risk of suffering an injury when playing other sports. But if it is not practiced correctly, one or more of these five injuries can happen to you when lifting weights:
1) Muscle Strain
Muscle strain or “pull” typically happens when you tear part of the fibers of a main muscle or tendon; it is usually caused by either stretching a muscle or tendon too far or trying to lift too much weight.
Muscle strains come in three levels of severity:
1. small tears with a little swelling and mild pain,
2. larger tears with more swelling and moderate pain,
3. considerable amount of torn fibers resulting in massive swelling, severe pain and total loss of mobility.
Treatment for the first and second level injuries is rest, ice and mild stretching. For the last level, surgery may be required depending on the severity of the tear.
2) Shoulder Impingement
Shoulder impingement is the inflammation of one of the rotator cuff muscles, usually caused by lifting too much weight; as a result the inflammation causes swelling. However this swelling also causes pain, localized weakness and even loss of movement due to the narrow space where the rotator cuff muscles go between the shoulder blade and collarbone.
Treatment includes reducing the swelling through icing down the shoulder and taking anti-inflammatory medications.
Rehabilitation includes a specific range of motion and strengthening exercises usually prescribed by a physical therapist or sports medicine specialist. Heat, ice and ultrasound may also be prescribed.
See the Ultimate Rotator Cuff Training Guide for more info and a Step-By-Step System for home healing.
3) Herniated Disc
Discs in our spine act as tiny shock absorbers to keep vertebrae from rubbing against each other. However, if we try to lift too much weight or lift improperly, one or more discs can push out against the fibrous outer ring or even break through it, called herniated disc.
Treatment ranges from rest and ice up to major back surgery depending on the severity of injury. In most cases, the cause of a herniated disc is from using improper form when lifting.
Herniated Disc: A Survival Guide has answers has hundreds of illustrations and photos explaining different solutions for people with herniated lumbar discs.
4) Ligament Sprain
Ligaments are the connective tissue that holds bones together, such as in a joint. A ligament sprain is normally caused by overstretching one of more of these connective tissues. Common sprain locations include joints such as the ankle, wrist and knee.
Ligament sprains, just like muscle tears, come in three grades:
1. mild over-stretching,
2. partial tear,
3. complete tear.
For the first two, treatment should include rest, icing down the affected area, wrapping with an elastic bandage and elevating the injured area to reduce swelling.
For a complete tear, most often surgery is required. The most common cause of sprains while in the gym are unexpected falls or trips.
5) Muscle Contusion
Also known as a bruise, a contusion is usually caused by a blunt force hitting a muscle. The bruise forms due to blood seeping out from broken capillaries and into tissue. Along with a dark discoloration, there is usually swelling, pain and in severe cases, loss of strength and mobility.
Treatment of muscle contusions is the same as it is for the first two levels of ligament sprains – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Sometimes gently massaging the affected area can help restore blood flow and relieve the pain.
As you probably surmised, muscle contusions are associated with the unexpected dropping of weights onto fingers, toes, feet or other body parts.
Through proper lifting form, and knowing your limitation as far as how much weight you should be lifting, most of these injuries can be eliminated or at least reduced in severity.