Weightlifting is a great way to build muscle strength and endurance. But if done improperly, it is also a sure-fire way to get injured. Following common sense guidelines as well as utilizing proven weight safety techniques are your best bets to weightlifting properly to prevent back injury.
Tips for Preventing Weight Lifting Injuries
- Properly warming up your muscles before doing any workout
- Keeping the abdominal muscles engaged and your core tight to support your spine
- Holding your form and posture steady without sudden, jerky movements
- Building your strength in increments, starting low then working up to heavier weights
Knowing how much weight is appropriate can be a guessing game, so a good rule of thumb is to start with weights you can lift comfortably for 12 to 15 reps. If you are new to lifting weights, don’t learn by watching people while they work out at the gym because they may not be using proper form either. Instead, consult a trainer to make sure you are doing it correctly and using the right weight on every exercise that you do. Also, there are many reputable online resources as well as hundreds of fitness books and apps that can instruct you on proper technique.
Prevent Back Pain while Lifting Weights
Using the right form is essential to avoiding hurting your back while you exercise. It enables you to isolate specific muscle groups while making sure that you don’t get hurt. And remember, you can hurt yourself by just picking up the weights from the racks, so be sure to hold your back steady and never try to pick up more than you are able.
Your posture also plays a major role in preventing injury at the gym, as does balance. When standing, keep your knees soft rather than locked, and your hips and shoulders level. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and firmly planted. Keep your chin up, your back straight, and your core engaged. Always perform twisting exercises in a concise, controlled manner. While sitting, sit on a bench with a back support or make sure your spine and shoulders are straight with your core engaged. NEVER think twice about asking someone on staff for assistance if you are not sure that you are doing an exercise correctly.
Finally, don’t hold your breath. Remember to exhale slowly on the exertion, meaning as you are lifting the weight, slowly exhale. A good practice is to exhale for a count of 10.
Some don’ts of weight training are:
Rushing through a workout: this can cause you to “flail about” or rely on momentum to complete the exercise. Flailing can cause injuries to the joints or engage muscles that shouldn’t be involved in an exercise. For instance, trying to curl a dumbbell that is too heavy can cause you to throw your back into the exercise just to lift the weight, which could cause back strain or injure your elbow. It also completely minimizes the effectiveness of the exercise.
Not knowing when to stop: Don’t overdo it. When you feel you have had enough and your muscles are fatigued, remember that tomorrow is another day! Work a different muscle group or move on to your core work, stretches or cardio.
Forgetting to listen to your body: Feeling “the burn”, which is a result of lactic acid buildup from muscle exertion (which is a good thing), and feeling pain from a upper or lower back injury (which is a bad thing), are two different types of discomfort. You will be able to identify the difference with time, but if you aren’t sure, again, consult a professional. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Spine Vue Can Help Treat Back Injuries
Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Grow your exercise regimen only as you are safely able to do so. Start with a weight you can comfortably lift, then gradually build strength by adding more resistance to your lifting. Slow and steady progress is the only way to build endurance without hurting yourself. An injury not only can be painful and will also set your exercise program back weeks or even months. If injury does occur, contact Spine Vue to schedule your consultation, our expert staff is determined to help you ease or eliminate the pain caused by back injuries.