I’ve always had pretty good luck when it’s come to injuries. Sure, I’ve had the odd sprain, the odd discomfort here and there – that goes with the territory – but I’ve never torn, dislocated, or well and truly damaged any part of my body.
But if I’m honest, I’d say it’s less down to luck and more down to the way I train.
You see, yes – I do want to be the biggest and strongest I can be. And yes, I do give my sessions 110% and push myself to make gains each time. But I know my limitations, I’m never reckless, I never let my ego have a say – ever, and I always listen to my body.
Here I’d like to list the most common weight lifting injuries, why they occur, and what you can do to prevent them from occurring:
- Repetitive strain injuries: These kinds of injuries are easy to prevent. They don’t just suddenly appear overnight, but rather, you will notice when performing lifts (and after them) that you are left feeling an uncomfortable pain which isn’t the good kind of pain we bodybuilders want. It’s usually in the joint areas; elbows, shoulders, knees, etc. When we experience such pains, it’s because of repeatedly performing exercises and movements which are causing gradual damage to our bodies. In the event of developing a repetitive strain injury the worst possible thing you can do is be stubborn and continue using the lifts causing the pain; this leads to major issues. You need to simply stop doing these exercises, let your injury heal, perform stretching exercises, and then try easing back into training using different exercises. More often than not, in bodybuilding, there are many different ways to skin a cat, and finding a pain-free exercise shouldn’t be a problem.
- General tendon/muscle strains: Not a particularly serious injury, it is still nevertheless a signal that something is wrong. More often than not, it’s down to not warming up properly, lifting beyond your capacity, or improper form. The most important thing in training is to do warm up sets, always make small incremental gains (slow and steady wins the race, remember!) and to work on your form. Form is nothing but the optimal and safest way to perform an exercise.
- Shoulder injuries: Shoulder pain is a very common problem in bodybuilding, and it’s not surprising. While the outer shoulder muscles may be strong, the inner muscles and shoulder joint itself is rather delicate. Many make the huge mistake of working through shoulder pain, which only ever makes things worse and some people have to have shoulder surgery and can never really perform heavy shoulder work again. You need to avoid this situation like the plague. If you experience shoulder injury or pain, you need to stop all shoulder exercises, and gradually ease them back in, one by one, to find which one is causing you the pain. As soon as you know, you’ve got to examine you form, tweak it, see if you can’t make it work pain free. If not – you have one option only – drop the exercise completely and use an alternative. If you don’t and continue making things worst, basically, you are a complete moron. Sorry, but you are.
- Back injuries: Back injuries are such a common problem in everyday life; you’d expect them to be even more common in weight lifting. But, I know from personal experience that by mastering proper lifting form, I’ve actually strengthened my back and I haven’t had a single back injury in years – not even so much as a stiff back. You see, the secret to avoiding back injuries (in everything, not just weight lifting) is to always lift with your legs as the primary driving force, and to always – ALWAYS – keep your spine locked out. This keeps equal pressure on all of you discs. When you round your back, you are placing uneven pressure on your discs, and risk something slipping. And once you’ve had a serious back injury, usually, it’ll never be right again – so you’ve only got once shot at keeping it in good order, don’t mess it up.