Research of the Day – Nov 13, 2012 – Weightlifting and injuries, so You’re saying there’s a chance…

Hey Folks!
Research of the day! I’m out a limb here – examining a paper reporting injury rates among Olympic Weightlifters. No one ever learned anything by turning a blind eye to the things they love just because they love them!

Todays Paper:

Injury Rates and Profiles of Elite Competitive Weightlifters

What they did:

  • They took data from USA weightlifting training camps (where the athletes train to prepare for world championships, olympics and other important competitions in weightlifting) regarding training hours, injury location, injury severity and injury nature
  • The weightlifting teams medical staff (MDs, physios, chiros, etc.) provided their information about any injuries that ocurred to the athletes while they were at the training camp with regard to type of injury (strain, sprain, contusion, fracture, etc.) location (knee, hip, elbow, etc.) nature (acute, chronic, recurring) and severity (time recommended to miss from training)
  • They took this data from 1990-1995

What they found:

  • Over the 6 years there were 560 injuries, of which 326 were located in the low back, knee or shoulder
  • 459 of those 560 injuries were considered a strain, sprain or tendonitis
  • 507 of the 560 injuries resulted in a recommendation of missing less than 1 day of training

What does it mean:

  • It means being competitive at Olympic Weightlifting carries about the same risk of injury as playing just about any other sport.
  • The authors suggest the injuries sustained are less severe as there isn’t any off centered or lateral movement during the weightlifting movements – lateral movements or off centered movements that are often attributed to causing stability injuries to soccer, football, and other sports players.
  • Rates of injuries and complaints in later life were similar to non-weightlifters, but not as bad as retired wrestlers.

What do I think:

  • We have the benefit of diversifying our training, and so not being exposed to the same movements every day (imagine training the snatch, clean and/or jerk, 6 times a day… THAT is repetition) – something that increases the chances of injury
  • We have the disadvantage of not being elite level athletes with thousands of hours of training and familiarity with the movements – something that would reduce the chances of injury
  • The point being… There’s ALWAYS risk to living life (and training). Daring to be great, pushing your comfort zone boundaries and endeavoring to be in better physical condition requires stresses being placed on the tissues of the body, which always carries a risk.
  • The question you can ask yourself is whether or not the risk is worth having better bone density, greater muscle mass and better insulin sensitivity, all things that are related to greater quality of life as well as greater longevity. You all know where I stand on this issue.
  • What we CAN do, is make sure we’re aiming for perfect form, that we’re making an effort to maintain a neutral spine at all times, that we’re keeping our shoulders in healthy positions when pulling or overhead, and that we’re pressurizing the trunk properly when bracing for a lift. THESE THINGS ARE IMPORTANT.
  • It’s also good to know that I’m not alone when my knees are a little achy after a heavy oly lifting session.

Stay healthy, Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball