What do CrossFit, powerlifting, and bodybuilding have in common? At one point, all have received a bad reputation due to the supposedly high rate of injury. Since the exercises in these weightlifting practices can surround classic Olympic-style lifting, strict form is of the utmost importance.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the lack of proper form that has contributed the most to weightlifting injuries, it’s the lack of scheduled body maintenance.
WHY FOCUS ON BODY MAINTENANCE?
Your body, like any machine, is made of materials that are prone to break down when used in a repetitive fashion. Instead of taking the time to become aware of the warning signs, many athletes continue to push their body’s ability past its breaking point, resulting in injury.
Let’s review the importance of body maintenance in order to avoid injury as well as a list of simple solutions to ensure you can continue your time in the weight room.
There are varying degrees of an injury but for the purpose of this article, we are talking strictly about use and overuse injuries. These are injuries that have come about due to repetitive movement with little to no recovery time, otherwise known as overtraining. Over using a muscle occurs for two primary reasons:
- The body is pushed too far past its ability to adapt
- The body has not been given appropriate time to heal through means of rest and nutrition
The latter of these two reasons is more important, particularly when performing high-intensity exercises as you do in CrossFit or all-out power movements like powerlifting.
ONE-SIZE FITS ALL INJURY PREVENTION: DOES IT EXIST?
There is an inherent flaw in the idea that you can calculate the risk of injury for an entire fitness population to provide a universal maintenance schedule. Put simply: It’s impossible.
Think of your body as a car. You can’t drive a car around for 100,000 miles and be maintenance free. You want to plan ahead, but you’re unsure as to how much driving will result in a breakdown. Your owner’s manual recommends a 3,500-mile check while your mechanic says you don’t need to worry about it until 6,000 miles. It is the same with your body.
Your chiropractor may suggest a weekly maintenance massage while your doctor may tell you to stretch and do a semi-annual massage. With an overabundance of information, it is not possible to calculate a universal maintenance schedule.
Obviously, no one is the same. Some of us may be more prone to injury due to genetics and therefore may require a higher rate of maintenance. While others may not have any genetic disadvantages, requiring a more lax maintenance schedule.
IN GENERAL: MORE WORK, MORE RISK
Although there is no universal system for scheduled body maintenance, there is a simple idea that you can follow in order to avoid injury.
The more you drive a car, the sooner you will be due for needed maintenance. The same can be said for your body. The more you train, the more you push yourself, the sooner you should schedule your next body maintenance. As mentioned above, CrossFit, powerlifting, and bodybuilding naturally demand a higher rate of usage. Many athletes ignore the warning signs and this high demand results in a higher risk of injury.
On a long enough timeline, if you live an active lifestyle, then your risk of injury is 100%. There is just no way around it. Take runners for example. Studies show the injury risk for your average runner is up to 53%. For those long-term runners, the possibility can be as high as 92%. (1)
Are you a runner with overly tight and sore hamstrings? Read our article on how you could be at risk for tearing your hamstrings.
READ THE SIGNS
Most of what is considered an injury in weightlifting amounts to the equivalent of a warning light in your vehicle's dash, reminding you that it's time for an oil change. The more in tune an athlete is to these warning lights, the quicker they will act on the warning.
Here is a common list of tell-tale warning signs. If you are experiencing one or several of these signs, it’s time for maintenance.
- Extreme fatigue (especially during exercise)
- More time spent feeling sick (e.g., having a long-standing common cold)
- Sleep is never as satisfying as you need it to be
- Changes in your mood – Getting frustrated easily
- Long-lasting muscle soreness – Being sore for more than 72-hours
TAKE TIME FOR BODY MAINTENANCE
Maintenance of the human body can take on many different forms. Ideally, you will only need minimal maintenance such as the following:
- Dynamic stretching before and during workouts
- Static stretching following a workout and on rest days
- Foam rolling
- Massage therapy
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Dry needling
- Joint adjusting
- Mobility work – Light rehabilitation
If the mentioned warning lights are ignored for too long then a more substantial maintenance session may become necessary. For instance, the athlete may get to a point where certain movements must be avoided while more intensive restorative and corrective care is undergone. In other words, more time spent away from your weightlifting workouts while your body heals.
The way to avoid a breakdown is to properly care for your body with your own routine schedule of maintenance including massage and chiropractic adjustment. Do the right thing and take care of your body before little tweaks become major issues.
FOCUS ON PREVENTION
The way to avoid a breakdown is to properly care for your body with your own routine schedule of maintenance including massage and chiropractic adjustment. You can also do your part inside the weight room by using the proper gear to help avoid weightlifting injuries. Here are several pieces of fitness equipment that can improve results and lower your risk of injury:
Read our article for a quick tutorial on how to use your wrist wraps correctly. Above all, do the right thing and take care of your body before little tweaks become major issues.
WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE FOR BODY MAINTENANCE?
How often do you stretch? Do you receive regular massages? Have a video of your own body maintenance plan? Tag us on our Instagram!
- van Mechelen W. Running injuries. A review of the epidemiological literature. Sports Med. 1992 Nov;14(5):320-35.