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Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me…

Posted by wmagnus On April - 19 - 2010

Whether it’s Body for Life, P90X, Chalene Extreme or any number of other workout routines, the rising popularity of weight training for fitness has been apparent over the last decade. Over this time, runners are discovering they can reduce injury by getting back to basics and running without shoes, swimmers are refining their sport, cycling has gotten safer and new safer, more efficient cardio hardware has appeared. What are the lifters doing? They are getting hurt more.According to researchers in the American Journal of Sports Medicine over the 18 years from 1990 to 2007, injuries from weight lifting increased by nearly 50%. Overall, 970,000 weight training-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the 18-year study period.

But who is getting hurt and how is it happening? 82% of all injured persons are male and nearly half are between 13 and 24 years old. That’s easy to blow off as youthful exuberance and indiscretion. The problem is that the fastest increase in rates of injury is occurring in the 45 and older crowd. It seems that in their zeal to age against the machine, older weight lifters are putting themselves at risk of injury.

90% of all of these weight lifting injuries involve free weights rather than weight machines. Of those, the majority are the result of dropping weights. Men tend to drop weights on their torso — undoubtedly the result of overly ambitious bench pressing — whereas women tend to injure their feet and hands. The over 50 crowd throws all the stats off since their injuries tend to be strains and sprains from weight machines.

So what does all this mean? Study author Dawn Comstock, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says, “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.”

While this may seem obvious, it’s all too easy to charge off to the gym or pull those old weights out of the garage in the euphoria following reading about a new routine in Men’s Health or similar magazine. We know from research that building muscle is almost required to effectively burn fat and remain lean and toned. Weight lifting is an effective part of any exercise schedule but it needs to be taken seriously.

With planning and care it’s possible to lift weight at any age and avoid joining the injury statistics.

Her Take: We realize that not everybody can afford a personal trainer. So where are people going to learn proper lifting technique? From experience I can tell you that it’s hard to learn to lift from a book, but possible. There are certainly all sorts of fitness videos on the internet, but not all of them demonstrate good form — in fact some of them should be labeled “how not to lift”. The nice thing about professionally prepared workout videos is that the trainer walks you through how to do it right, at an appropriate pace, without hurting yourself. Regardless of your source of lifting information, be sure you carefully follow all the cues you are given, focus on form rather than weight or reps, and if stop if something feels wrong to figure out what it is.

One Response to “Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me…”

  1. Insightful article. Too many people get injured trying to get into shape. I often recommend strength training workout programs such as ChaLean Extreme because Chalene keeps you focused on form and gives you training tips throughout each exercise as if you had a trainer right there with you.