Avoiding common weight training injuries

Many athletes already have begun training and conditioning in preparation for fall sports. Activities such as weightlifting can help build strength and endurance, but if done improperly can lead to a serious shoulder injury. In fact, approximately 7.5 million people go to the doctor for a shoulder problem each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Some of the most common weightlifting shoulder injuries include a torn rotator cuff, tendinitis, bursitis, sprains and strains. Luckily there are ways to prevent, detect and treat these shoulder injuries. Follow these basic guidelines to lift weights more safely:

  • Stretch before a workout: It’s important to warm up your muscles before lifting weights. Doing so will allow your muscles to become more flexible, which can help prevent future injuries.
  • Don’t overdo it: A weightlifting routine should be done no more than four times a week for 20-30 minute sessions.  It’s always a good idea to conduct an evaluation with your trainer on a continuous basis to ensure you are using the proper lifting technique to avoid injury. Also, don’t increase weight amounts too quickly as this can place strain on muscles, which may cause you to use an improper? lifting technique.
  • Know the warning signs of a shoulder injury:  There are several signs to look for to determine if you have suffered a shoulder injury. Those include a lack of movement and stiffness in the shoulder, inability to rotate the shoulder and arm in all normal positions, feeling that the shoulder could be dislocated and/or pain in the shoulder when doing daily activities. If you experience any or all of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Shoulder injuries should not be ignored. If you do experience pain or lack of motion, it is essential to obtain a consultation with an orthopedic specialist who can diagnose your injury and determine the proper course of treatment. Depending on the extent of your injury, your doctor may recommend rest, prescription pain and anti-inflammatory medication, or possibly surgery.

– Peter I. Sallay M.D.

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