Top 5: Most Common Weight Training Injuries March 1, 2012
Top 5: Most Common Weight Training Injuries March 1, 2012

1. Muscle Strain
A muscle strain, also commonly called a muscle pull, occurs when you tear some of the main muscle fibers or tendon fibers due over-stretching or overloading. There are three grades or classifications of muscle strain, ranging from small tears with little swelling and mild pain, larger tears with a good deal of swelling and moderate pain, to considerable amount of torn fibers, massive swelling, severe pain and total loss of strength and mobility. Treatment for first and second-degree tears includes rest, ice and low level stretching with an eventual return to exercise with therapy intervention. For third-degree tears, depending on the severity, surgery may be required. In the gym, the most common causes of strains are muscle tightness, imbalance and fatigue.

2. Shoulder Impingement
Shoulder impingement refers to inflammation of one of the rotator cuff muscles that pass through the subacromial space (the space between the top of your shoulder blade and your collar bone). The inflammation causes swelling which narrows the space and results in pain, weakness and even loss of movement in the shoulder. Initial treatment includes avoidance of activities that aggravate the condition, icing the affected area and anti-inflammatory medications. Rehabilitation treatment should include specific range of motion and strengthening exercises. In severe cases, surgery may be required. In the gym, the most common causes of impingement are repetitive motions like throwing or overhead lifting using weights that are too heavy.

3. Disc Herniation
Spinal discs, which act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae, usually suffer trauma from direct blunt force injuries or lifting injuries. This trauma can range from slight protrusion or bulging of the disc to complete rupture or herniation of the disc fibrous outer ring. The lumbar spine is the most common area for injury. Depending on the severity, treatment can range from rest and ice to major surgery. In the gym, disc injuries usually result from lifting weight with improper form where the spine is flexed.

4. Ligament Sprain
A sprain is where a ligament, which connects the bones of a joint together, is overstretched. Sprains most commonly occur at the ankle, wrist and knee. Just like a muscle tear there are three grades of sprain ranging from mild over-stretching, partial tear, to complete tear -almost always resulting in surgery. Depending on the severity of the sprain, treatment should always follow the RICE principle of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. In the gym, the most common cause of sprains are landing awkwardly during jumping movements or falls and trips.

5. Muscle Contusion
A contusion, commonly called a bruise, is usually caused by blunt force trauma to a muscle. Capillaries in the muscles are ruptured resulting in blood seeping out into the surrounding tissue and forming a dark discoloration. Along with blood diffusion there is also usually swelling, pain and possibly loss of strength and mobility. Contusions are graded both on their size and severity using a scale of 1-5. Treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation and in some cases, gentle massaging of the affected area can help with blood flow and pain relief. In the gym, the most common cause of contusions are dropping weights on fingers, toes, feet or other body parts.

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