It’s safe to assume that most men lifting weights do so because they wish to build muscle mass, sculpt their body, or increase their metabolism in order to lose weight. Lifting weights is, therefore, one of the best-known and well-regarded exercises that helps men achieve all three, ever since time immemorial. It’s also a challenging, fun way to keep yourself fit while increasing your testosterone at the same time.
In spite of all the proven benefits that weight lifting can bring, it should be noted that weight lifting does have some risks that require taking proper precautions — that’s because injuries can arise as a result of inadequate form, poor technique, carelessness, or fatigue, among any other factors.
That said, with the right kind of knowledge as well as commonsensical action, anyone can enjoy and take advantage of weight lifting’s positive benefits — even total beginners. And in order to avoid injuries, you need to know which ones are the most frequently encountered by men who lift.
Here are six of the most frequent weight lifting injuries at the gym, followed by some useful tips to prevent them.
Biceps tendinopathy occurs when the long head of the biceps tendon — one of the most common muscles men target by way of bicep curls and the like — is swollen due to inflammation. Biceps tendonitis often occurs with other shoulder injuries. As we pile on the years, the tendons that are responsible for movement diminish and weaken due to everyday use. Further degeneration can ensue due to overuse and by repeating the same shoulder motions over time.
Rotator cuff tears
Rotator cuff tears aren’t just exclusively a baseball thing. The rotator cuff is composed of four muscles starting from the wing bone to the upper arm, forming a cuff around the shoulder joint. When trauma leads to injury, or when overuse leads to a tear in the cuff, these injuries can cause significant pain apart from drastically reducing the range of motion and function of your arm. Rotator cuff tears are common in adults over 40 and above, particularly those who perform a wide array of activities that require overhead motions.
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that serves as a cushion, acting as a wedge within the structure of the knee. Each knee possesses two of these cartilage cushions, allowing protection, support, and facilitate movement. Meniscus injuries are frequent and may result from constant overuse, normal wear and tear, or sudden movements such as twisting, turning, or slowing down while running.
Ruptured Achilles tendon
The Achilles tendon, with a structure akin to a cord, is what connects lower leg muscles to the heel. This tendon is the largest tendon in the body and is absolutely critical for walking, running, and everything related to foot movements. When the Achilles tendon experiences regular wear and tear, overuse, or excessive trauma, it might result in a rupture or a tear.
Shoulder impingements are a very common cause of pain in the shoulders. These occur when the shoulder rubs or gets caught on nearby bone and muscle tissue as you lift your arm. More specifically, impingement occurs when the rotator cuff is pinned between the shoulder blade and the ball of the shoulder joint every time the arm is raised. Inflammation narrows the space between the bursa and the rotator cuff, leading to impingement. Alternatively, a rotator cuff tear might also cause shoulder impingement. This is a common injury for individuals who regularly use overhead motions as part of their exercise, sport, or job.
Rotator cuff tendonitis
Rotator cuff tendonitis occurs when the muscles comprising the rotator cuff are swollen, irritated, or inflamed. Pain may be experienced by individuals performing repeated overhead motions or by extending their arms to reach something.
Here are some tips on how to avoid injuries:
- Focus on form and get the necessary equipment. Poor technique doesn’t only make your weight lifting exercises inefficient, but it can also lead to injury. Poor form overtaxes particular muscles, leading to an injury due to overuse. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither should you think that. Use well-maintained equipment and perfect your form to drastically reduce your chances of developing an injury.
- Find a qualified personal trainer. Whether you’re a total newbie or you’ve been lifting at certain times in your life, a personal trainer can help you correct your form, lend you a hand when lifting heavy weights, and help you warm-up, stretch and cool down — the right way. Taking on too much too soon can lead to overuse injuries. Always increase or decrease the intensity and duration of exercises gradually.
- Don’t skip warm-ups. Warming up before each weight lifting session is critical to get the blood flowing to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, as well as to prepare them for some action. Light aerobic exercises and active stretching are ideal ways to warm up before you go all out.
- Consult your primary health care provider. It’s never a bad idea to sit down with your doctor before going on an exercise routine, as well as to determine how you should go about doing it. Your doctor knows your particular health situation better than anyone. Therefore it’s prudent to consult your doctor to see whether you should ramp up or slow down your exercise routine. Your doctor may also offer tips to help make exercising a safer activity. Never start a weight lifting program with an injury and never self-diagnose.