By John-Michael Leppert, ATC, LAT, MSc, CSCS
Injury prevention is a concept commonly used throughout sports medicine and strength and conditioning professions. For these particular professions, the number one goal is to help individuals achieve their goals whether it is recovering from an injury, treating an injury, losing weight, gaining weight, altering their body fat percentage, etc. No matter the goal, safety is the highest priority.
An area in which injury prevention programs are not always present is weight training. Injury prevention is an important aspect to consider whether the individual is a novice or highly experienced participant in weight lifting. The main points of injury prevention should include a slow and controlled warm-up, proper technique, and proper recovery.
A warm-up is an integral portion of properly preparing the mind and body for training or competition. The same sort of detail should be applied to weight training. Numerous individuals do not undergo a proper warm-up prior to weight training, therefore increasing the chances of injury. One element of a proper warm-up includes dynamic stretching of the target muscles. Dynamic stretches are active stretches that mimic the motions that are to be performed. In contrast to ballistic movements, which consist of fast bouncing motions, dynamic stretches are slow, controlled movements through the full range of motion of a particular joint. Although conventional static stretching may produce an increase in range of motion, dynamic stretching offers an increase in tissue temperature similar to that created during performance of weight-training exercises.
Next, individuals need to slowly progress with correct technique. The notion that an individual can achieve the results desired within a short period of time is detrimental to the idea of proper technique. This outlook may cause an individual to increase the amount of resistance too quickly. Start with the foundation: your own body weight. Master the proper form of whatever resistance exercise is being attempted then slowly start to add resistance. A safe approach to follow is the “two-for-two” rule. This rule requires the individual to successfully complete two extra repetitions on top of the previously designated number of repetitions in the final set of an exercise for two consecutive training sessions. Once an individual can proficiently perform these extra repetitions with proper technique, then extra weight or resistance may be added.
Additionally, an adequate amount of rest between workout sessions is highly beneficial to making significant gains along with remaining injury free. If muscles are not allotted proper recovery time, the individual can be susceptible to damaging the target muscle. During weight training, muscle fibers will break down to allow for stronger regeneration. The same concept applies to our bones. With extra stress being placed on our skeletal system, bone strength and density will increase. However, if bone is breaking down faster than it can be rebuilt, the individual may sustain a stress fracture.
John-Michael Leppert is a Certified Athletic Trainer in Sports Medicine with OrthoMemphis and Head Athletic Trainer at Hutchison School. Certified Athletic Trainers are medical professionals who are experts in injury prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation, particularly in orthopedic and musculoskeletal disciplines. Call (901) 259-1600 or visit OrthoMemphis.com.