Weight Training Injuries on the Rise
Weight training has many health benefits for both youth and adults, but a new study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital has found that the number of injuries from lifting weights has increased since 1990. The research is published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
Researchers found that more than 970,000 weight training-related injuries were treated in the emergency departments of US hospitals between 1990 and 2007, representing a nearly 50% increase.
Youths ages 13 to 24 had the highest number of injuries. In this age group, there was a 47% increase. Most of the injuries resulted from the use of free weights. Children 12 and younger were also more likely to be injured by free weights and had a higher proportion of lacerations and fractures. They were also more likely to sustain injuries as a result of the weight dropping or falling on them.
Adults aged 45 years and older had the highest increase in injuries, with 82% being male. However, as more and more women participate in strength-training efforts, so has the number of injuries among females. People 55 and older were more likely to be injured using weight-training machines and to sustain injuries from overexertion and lifting or pulling.
"Before beginning a weight training program, it is important that people of all ages consult with a health professional, such as a doctor or athletic trainer, to create a safe training program based on their age and capabilities," said study author Dawn Comstock, PhD. "Getting proper instruction on how to use weight lifting equipment and the proper technique for lifts, as well as providing trained supervision for youths engaging in weight training, will also reduce the risk of injury."
Weight-training offers many benefits for young and old alike. These include increased muscle strength, reduction of body fat and increased lean body mass, reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol, and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Among youth athletes, rregular participation in a strength training program can significantly reduce sports related injuries. In older adults, working with weights can improve strength, balance, and functional ability.
Proper technique is essential for weight-training. When starting a strength training program, use the following guidelines to stay safe and injury-free.
• Find an instructor who can help you learn how to do the exercises correctly using the proper form. For kids, a high school coach or athletic trainer can help. For adults, take advantage of the orientation session that most gyms offer when you join or hire a personal trainer until you feel you can perform the moves safety.
• Warm up and cool down for each session. The warm-up should include stretching and a short cardiovascular workout to warm the muscles. Stretching is also important during the cool-down.
• When starting a new workout, use a small amount of weight at first and set a goal for the ACSM recommended minimum of eight to twelve repetitions. Use only an amount of weight that you can lift while still maintaining proper form. Once you build strength, you can progress in both the amount of weight and the number of reps. Don’t continue to lift if you feel pain.
• Wear the appropriate foot wear. Ensure that your shoes have good traction to prevent slipping.
• Remember to breathe. Some people have a tendency to hold their breath while lifting a heavy load. Failure to breathe properly may cause increases in blood pressure that could be harmful. It is recommended to exhale through the mouth as you lift.
• Get plenty of rest between workouts. It is recommended to give each muscle at least one to two days rest between sessions to allow for recovery, healing, and building.