Monday, April 12, 2010

When Weights Attack Back!

According to a new study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, weight training room injuries has increased nearly 50 %. The majority of injuries occurred during the use of free weights (90 percent), and the most common mechanism of injury were weights dropping on a person (65 percent)!!

So let's examine some potential occurrences of when free weights or plates can become dangerous in a weight room:
Overhead press
Bench Press
Incline Press
Decline Press
Leg Press
Barbell Lunges

These are instances where the lifter may lose control of a weight during the exercise and "drop" the weights due to poor form or to avoid injury. However, in some cases,  the load is much too great for the lifter and an acute injury may occur. For example, under extreme circumstances, the bench press can cause a pectoral rupture. Although this is a rare injury--it has been increasing in occurrences in mostly young male lifters. I wrote about my experience with this injury which I suffered over 14 years ago here.

If a lifter is following a poor exercise program that lacks variation; poor technique, poor progression, and poor supervision and instruction--over time, the likelihood of an injury can occur due to muscular malfunction (micro-trauma/tears to muscle fibers, faulty joint mechanics, grip strength, etc) and a loaded bar may "fall". A lifter may also miss the "hooks" on a bench. Sometimes when a lifter is using maximum loads, he or she may become disoriented after the last repetition due to poor breathing patterns:

With  that being said, it is important to follow a couple of rules that I institute with all my clients (and including myself):

1.) Always use a spotter when trying a weight that you haven't already tried 4-5x within the last 30-40 days.

2.) Use a spotter if you are coming off an injury.
3.) Clear the area around you (move water bottles, gym bags, etc.)

4.) Make sure there is a clear path to a bench's spotting area (usually behind). Most gyms will place their benches against the wall which inhibits a spotter or someone to run behind you and save you during a fall.

5.) Breathe. Sounds easy? Most people don't know how to do it under 200+ pounds.

6.) I believe in Charles Poliquin's statement that a "set should end when the form begins to lag". if the form on a lift is beginning to break,  that is your last repetition. Period. There is no need to engrave poor mechanics when going for optimal loads.

Other weight-training injuries occur because of pure stupidity. For instance, dropping dumbbells, dropping plates, not placing weights back securely on racks; and releasing cable handles when the stack has not returned to the starting position. These instances are born from lack of proper instruction. These people need to seek out an experienced exerciser or trainer for guidance and safety tips. All in all, the weight-room is only dangerous if the person yielding it is foolish in judgment. Be safe!


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