Bodybuilding is an intense sport and injuries are often sustained by bodybuilders during the course of their training or competitions. A disturbing number of these bodybuilding injuries are preventable though and in this article we will consider some of the common causes of these mishaps, how to prevent them and how to deal with the injuries should they occur.
There are several types of injuries commonly suffered by bodybuilders and most of these are caused by overexertion, incorrect technique or equipment use and the absence of safety equipment. These conditions can range from the common or garden aches, pains and stiffness related to most strenuous exercise to permanently debilitating damage. As mentioned, most can be prevented by exercising restraint and common sense when working out.
The Most Common Bodybuilding Injuries
The most common injuries suffered by bodybuilders can be broken down into the following classifications:
- Fractures: These injuries consist of partial, complete or compression type bone breaks.
- Strains: Strains are caused by muscular over extension or over use.
- Bursitis: This injury affects the padding or bursa sacks which protect the muscles from adjacent bone mass. In bursitis these pads become inflamed and cause a lot of pain and resultant loss of mobility.
- Contusions: A contusion is bruising of a muscle as a result of impact.
- Sprains: Sprains are caused by over extending the ligaments that serve as connections between our bones.
- Avulsion: This is the tearing of the actual muscle itself. This usually occurs at the joint between the muscle and its tendon.
- Tendonitis: tendonitis is caused by inflammation of the tendons that attach the muscle mass to the bones.
This is a generalised breakdown of the different types of injuries generally suffered by bodybuilders. These in turn present themselves in many different forms, the most frequently encountered being:
- Elbow Tendonitis: This particular injury consists, in itself, of several different types. Lateral Epiconylitis or tennis elbow as it is more commonly know, is a strain at the origin of the extensor muscles in the forearm. A triceps tendonitis usually results from overuse of this muscle group with a resultant tendon strain. Medial Epiconylitis, or golfers elbow, results from overuse of the flexor muscles in the wrist.
- Neck Strains: This injury usually results from extensive stress placed on the neck muscles typically during squats and shrugs.
- Back Strain: One of the more common bodybuilding injuries, back strains are commonly caused by incorrect technique or the use of excessive weight during dead lifts and squats.
- Knee Strain: Another common bodybuilding injury that presents itself as meniscal tears, ACL tears and bursitis, knee strains are also usually the result of lifting excessive weight or bad form.
- Pectoral Tears: This injury is the result of a tear or avulsion of the Pectoralis Major tendon. In serious cases this will result in a knot or balling of separated muscle towards the sternum accompanied by severe bruising.
The normal stiffness and soreness that sets in within 48 hours of a workout is usually not something to be unduly alarmed about and is caused by a build up of lactic acid, and cortisol in the muscle as well as the slight damage which is the trigger for muscle regeneration and growth.
How To Prevent Injuries
Most of these bodybuilding injuries can be prevented by following a number of common sense good practices when working out.
- Warm up: A couple of sets with light weights before engaging in the full weight series, stretches and a couple of minutes on a treadmill go a long way to preventing injuries.
- Concentration: Stay focused on form and technique. Many people get hurt when they get distracted and the workout or equipment gets away from them.
- Footwear: Wear gym shoes, not thongs or sandals. This prevents injuries from stubs, slips or dropping weights on your feet.
- Restraint: Don’t unreasonably push the envelope. Boasting about your super deadlift looses its value if you’re doing it from a body cast.
- PPE: One of the most frequently neglected measures is the use of personal protective equipment. Wraps, gloves and supports prevent injuries. Simple and straight. Rather be a huge, ripped softy, than a broken down has-been superhero.
- Technique and form: Technique is as much about preventing injury as it is about maximizing on the workout. Never cut corners on form.
In the event of an injury occurring, the first line of action is to stop exercising immediately. Apply ice and a compress to control the inflammation, elevate the injured area to control blood loss or swelling, and support the injury with a brace. Then seek professional medical attention. Bodybuilding injuries are often not serious but if neglected are sure to turn out far worse than necessary. And above all always exercise common sense before you exercise your muscles.