The 3 Most Common Weightlifting Mistakes and How To Prevent Injury
Like much in the world of health and fitness, the subject of injuries is riddled with broscience and paranoia. Some guys will tell you to never squat past parallel because it will ruin your knees. Others say that touching the bar to your chest on the bench press is bad for your shoulders. And we’ve probably all been told that deadlifting is going to wreck our lower backs.
The reality is many guys just use the boogieman of injury to justify their poor training habits. Research has shown that weightlifting just isn’t a very dangerous activity. One study found that injuries sustained during recreational and competitive weightlifting are substantially lower than injuries from other sports such as football, gymnastics, and basketball.
That said, weightlifting injuries are on the rise, which is likely because it’s becoming more and more popular among both men and women. Trendy workout routines like Crossfit don’t help either, as a poor instructor is all it takes for everyone to become more injury prone.
(On an observational note, every person I know that was new to lifting and started with Crossfit got hurt within their first 6 months. In every case they were trying to hit heavy Olympic lifts, usually at the encouragement of the instructors.)
In this article I want to talk about common mistakes that increase your risk of injury, and how to speed recovery if you’re currently injured, or sustain an injury in the future.
What to Do If You Get Hurt
If you ensure you don’t make the above mistakes, your chances for injury are quite low. But sprains and strains can still happen, so let’s talk about what to do if something happens. (And if the injury is serious or chronic, it may require physical therapy, and you should see a doctor.)
The most important part of recovery is rest, of course. Don’t put any stress on the affected body part(s) until they’re fully healed. People that violate this simple principle can wind up with chronic injuries that become quite a problem.
Once the injured area feels healed, start slowly in training it again. Work with lighter weights and see how you feel the next day, and gradually work back into your normal routine.
Ice helps you heal by reducing swelling and internal bleeding from injured capillaries and blood vessels. I’ve strained various things over the years and what I did was simply keep two ice packs at the office. I would use one with the other waiting in the freezer, so I always had one ready.
Keep a damp cloth in between the ice pack and your skin to avoid discomfort, and don’t apply ice for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. As long as there is pain and inflammation, ice will help.
This hastens the healing process by reducing swelling and inflammation.
Use elastic bandage or a compression sleeve, and wrap the injured part tightly, but not tight enough to impair blood flow. You can combine compression with ice by wrapping over the ice pack.
By raising the affected part above your heart, you speed the blood’s journey back to your heart, which reduces swelling and aids in removing waste products from the area.
Heat stimulates blood flow, which helps your body bring more nutrients for healing and remove waste products.
You don’t want to use heat right away, however, because it aggravates inflammation. The general advice is to use only ice for the first 3 days to reduce swelling, and then to introduce heat, and alternate between the two.