Woman lifting weight

How to Avoid Common Weightlifting Injuries

Weightlifting can be an excellent form of exercise, helping you to manage your weight, strengthen your muscles and bones, increase your endurance, and improve your quality of life. Nonetheless, at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our doctors see many patients whose weightlifting has resulted in painful, sometimes serious injuries.

Our practice provides a wide range of nonsurgical therapies, both traditional and complementary, designed to relieve pain and restore function. Contact us for personalized care and a variety of therapeutic options. Here are some tips on how to use weightlifting as a means to enhance your health and vitality without negative consequences.

Reasons for Weightlifting Injuries

In most cases, weightlifting injuries are the result of one of the following:

  • Sudden movement or impact (acute injury)
  • Overuse (doing too much over a prolonged period)
  • Improper form while lifting 

As with other types of exercise, proper form is essential, and while fatigue is expected after weightlifting, pain should always be a cause for concern.

Common Weightlifting Injuries

The most common weightlifting injuries affect the back, shoulder, and knee, and include:

  • Back strain
  • Rotator cuff damage
  • Biceps tears
  • Patellar tendonitis

Tears of the meniscus and patella and Achilles tendon ruptures are also potential risks.

Preventing Weightlifting Injuries

To give yourself the best chance of building up your body without suffering injury, having the proper mindset is important. Weightlifting is not a competitive sport. Remembering this can save you stress and pressure to outperform others and give you the advantage of progressing at your own best pace. Our physiatrists, who have an in-depth understanding of how the body works, recommend:

  • Working to improve your own capacity, not to break anyone else’s record
  • Concentrating on form first, then execution (proper form will help you achieve more with less risk of injury)
  • Working with a personal trainer, at least at first, to get the hang of moving in the most healthful, productive way and avoiding unnecessary strain on your muscles
  • Starting off with a light load and increasing the weight you lift slowly and incrementally
  • Alternating other types of exercise with weightlifting, making sure to include movements that strengthen your core and involve flexibility and aerobic activity
  • Using safety precautions, e.g. have a spotter, especially when using free weights, and be particularly careful to use resistance bands that are not badly worn and are anchored correctly.
  • Giving your muscles time to rest and recover between bouts of weightlifting

When to Move On

We recommend not increasing the weight you’re lifting until you feel that you would be comfortable doing one more repetition of lifting your present load. Your body will let you know when it’s time to move forward without the strain that would increase your chance of trauma. Keeping a written record of your progression will accomplish two things: [1] show you how far you have come and [2] give you a good idea of when you are ready to increase your effort a bit.

Contact Our Experienced Weightlifting Injury Doctors Today

If you are experiencing pain after weightlifting, be proactive. Don’t wait for the pain to worsen before calling on one of our highly skilled physiatrists. We have cutting-edge diagnostic tools and effective treatments — including customized physical therapy, therapeutic injections, acupuncture, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy, and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy — to get you back to optimum health. Contact us now.