Weight lifting is usually a safe way to improve your health and get in a great workout. However, as with most physical activities, weight lifting does carry an injury risk.
You may experience an overuse injury that happens even after years of safely exercising. Other injuries are traumatic and happen suddenly. For example, you might be performing a dumbbell shoulder press and your shoulder suddenly gives out or freezes. Fortunately, most weight lifting injuries can be prevented with the following tips:
1. Prevent an overuse injury with a varied workout routine. You have your favorite exercises, but it is not always safe to perform them week after week, year after year. Instead, alternate your favorites with new exercises to change the way you place pressure on your tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles. For example, if your go-to leg strengthening exercise is a Smith machine squat, you may be preventing your knees from moving naturally. Try a dumbbell squat and hold the weights at your sides to lessen the pressure on your spine.
2. Exercise using proper form. Nothing beats moving your muscles through their full range of motion, but keep your joints aligned for the strongest support. Use mirrors to watch your form. Along the same lines, never hyperextend your joints—always keep a slight bend in your elbows and knees.
3. Avoid dramatic increases to your weight volume. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends using between a 2 and 10 percent increase in your weight load only when you are able to complete your desired number of sets, plus one or two more repetitions. This means that if you currently bench press 100 pounds, slide a 5-pound plate on each end until you can comfortably bench 110 pounds. Use a spotter when advancing in weight load.
4. Schedule in time for recovery. Len Kravitz, Associate Professor of Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico, recommends a 1 to 2 minute rest between sets. He also suggests a 1 to 2-day rest period between strength-training sessions, especially for movements that use larger muscle groups such as squats, deadlifts and overhead presses.
5. Wear protective gear. The use of protective gear such as gloves, belts, clothing and shoes during a workout can help prevent sudden injuries as a result of slipping weights. Check out our line of weight training gloves to see which can help you best maximize your workout.
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