The benefits of weight training have become too alluring to overlook: the lean, sexy muscles, the well-defined abs, the squatter's booty. With results like those, pumping iron is pretty impossible to resist! However, like all methods of fitness, lifting has its fair share of downsides too. The importance of proper form and technique is particularly relevant when it comes to weight training, since you run the risk of overloading your muscles and suffering unnecessary injuries. According to Women's Fitness, women are actually more prone to lower-extremity accident-related injuries than men are when it comes to lifting. To learn more, check out the information below!
Shoulder injuries: Most of the activities we do throughout the day force us to rotate our shoulders internally, a position that can put a lot of stress on the muscles. Lifting, too, encourages us to keep our shoulders internally rotated, and when you add a significant amount of weight, that only heightens the pressure. This overuse can lead to inflammation, which can contribute to a variety of injuries including supraspinatus tendonitis, shoulder impingement syndrome and a rotator cuff tear. If you are new to lifting, these injuries are definitely more common. If you overload your workout with exercises like chest flies and back rows, there's a good chance you might overwhelm the backs of your shoulders and ultimately cause an imbalance at the joint.
We recommend cutting back a bit on those exercises that rotate your shoulders internally, and instead add in a couple that stretch you out. You can try cable rows and practice turning your palms away from you to maintain proper position. Also, if you feel your shoulders getting sore, don't be afraid to ease up on your weights. Lighter weights will still get you the results you are looking for, so don't be discouraged!
Back injuries: Bad posture — in and out of the gym — can cause real problems once you hit the weights. Lifts like deadlifts, back rows and weighted squats can do some damage if you lift too heavy, or if your back is not properly aligned. Problems like herniated discs, back sprains and strains are only the most basic ones you face if you don't correct your positioning. Your back is supporting all of the weight you are lifting, so if you are prone to hunching over when you sit and lift, it's time to find a mirror and monitor yourself during your workout!
The best way to avoid injuring your back is to watch your posture. If you have a workout buddy, have them spot you on your heavier lifts. If you work out alone, then do your best to find a spot in front of the mirror. Also, make sure you are stretching out your back muscles during and after you exercise, and ice when necessary. To see our favorite stretches for your back, click here!
Knee issues: Unless you spend the majority of your day on your feet, knee problems can become a big nuisance for women weight lifters. You spend all day sitting behind a desk, or at a table, and our hip muscles go without use for most of that time. Then, when we hit the gym, our hips are too weak and our knees suffer the consequences! Certain exercises that engage the knee, such as leg presses, squats, and leg extensions can be particularly damaging, especially if you haven't taken the time to warm up your muscles. You run the risk of suffering from patellar tendonitis and other patellofemoral pain when you expose your knee joint to an undo amount of stress.
To take that pressure off your knee, we recommend taking the time to warm up your legs before you hit the heavier weights. In the meantime, you can also work on strengthening your hips by trying out this exercise. Also, make sure that you are maintaining proper form during your workout, especially for squats and lunges. When you are ready to churn out some leg extensions or leg presses, make sure you aren't locking out your knees, as this only places more strain on the joint. And of course, take the time to stretch it out during and after your routine!
Foot and ankle injuries: You might be skeptical when it comes to foot and ankle injuries due to weight lifting, and we don't blame you! We typically associate those kinds of injuries with cardio workouts. However, weight lifters have their fair share of foot and ankle injuries too! However, when you are standing, all of that weight falls onto your feet. When you add the weight of a barbell or dumbbell set, the pressure on those bones and muscles is pretty extreme. Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures, and plantar fasciitis are some of the most common ailments, although there are many different issues out there.
We recommend looking for a shoe that will offer you a good deal of support during your workout. Shoes with a lower heel will help spread the the impact to the entire foot, which will help to deter future problems. Good posture, as we have stressed, is also key. Especially during squats and lunges, make sure your ankles aren't rolling out from under you, and your weight is evenly distributed across your feet.
Don't let these common ailments deter you from hitting the weight rack. The benefits of incorporating lifting into your workout routine are overwhelming! For more information, check out our sources: Women Fitness, Men's Fitness, Body Building, Livestrong