Most professional fitness trainers agree that weight lifting is a great way to get in shape and stay in shape.
Like any other physical activity, however, training with weights is not without certain risks which are unique to the activity.
Probably the most common injury from lifting weights, and many other physical activities for that matter, is back injury. By the same token, while back injuries are a potential risk with weight lifting, when they DO occur they are most often the result of poor technique, or other errors made by the lifter.
Most of these errors can be easily avoided through learning proper technique and always doing each lift in the proper manner.
Possible Back Injuries
The exerciser should be aware of several possible back injuries that can occur during weight lifting.
The most common of these injuries are stress fractures that occur when flexing the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the back against resistance, such as regularly occurs during weightlifting. These types of injuries are most commonly caused by improper lifting technique during the squat, the deadlift and the clean and jerk.
Seniors, and other people who may already be suffering from arthritis, degenerative disc or joint disease, or people who may already be recuperating from a back injury, are particularly susceptible to back injuries related to weightlifting.
A few ways to avoid back injuries while weightlifting.
- As "Dirty Harry" would tell you, you have to know your limitations, so do not lift beyond your weight max based on your body condition.
New lifters take note.
If you are carrying a lot of weight in your abdomen, it may already be putting unnatural stress on your spine.
Your best bet in that case is to concentrate on higher reps and lower weights for weight loss first. This will also give you a chance to strengthen your core muscle group which will help protect your back later.
- For many exercises it is easier, and, for those with an an already injured or weakened back especially, safer to work out using weight machines rather than free weights,
- If you do choose to use free weights, make sure you work with a spotter.
- While the use of weight belts for most lifters is generally agreed to have little value, for those with an injured back they can be useful in preventing further injury. Check with your doctor or personal trainer if they think you should use a back belt.
- Do not attempt to do the weightlifting exercises that most often result in back injury i.e.: squats, deadlifts, clean and jerks, without proper training and or supervision.
We've spoken a lot about preventing an exercise injury to your back while weightlifting. It is always important to exercise safely. But, what about returning to lifting after a back injury that may or may not have even been caused by lifting?
First off you can, and will return, but do not expect to return exactly where you left off. You may be able to ease back into you exact routine; you may have to modify your routine to suit you current condition. Only your trainer or spine care professional will be able to accurately advise you. Most fitness pros agree however that after an injury reestablishing that "mind muscle link" that gets the body back into muscle building mode is critically important, and the hardest aspect to the road back. It is best to start slow and ease your body back into bodybuilding gear when coming back from an injury, just as you would do from taking any significant break in your regular weightlifting routine.
One possible step for preventing a back injury in any athletic endeavor, or recovering from one, is to regularly do back flexibility and strengthening exercises and movements, such as are found in the practice of yoga.