T Nation

Injuries

Ever since TC’s pec tear I have been paranoid about muscle tears and have searched for a comprehensive article on the topic of avoiding injuries. I now wear tracksuit tops for most of my workout, do a 5 min treadmill warm up, some light stretches (in spite of Dave Tate’s dont stretch for big lift recommendation), some slow warmup sets, and have a partner ready to quickly help if I have trouble. Are there any other things that should be done to avoid injuries? Do factors like age, sleep, dieting or overtraining increase the risk of injury? Does the risk of injury increase at specific weights or rate of increase in lifts? What is the most likely injury in a squat or dead lift? Im probably most concerned about deadlifts because the weight keeps going up and I dont want to be lying on the floor hearing “I told you so” from the gymbicils who never deadlift more than 120 and insist I will end up with a hernia or back tear.

Wow that was a lot of questions let me see if I can remember. Yes sleep, diet, emotional stress and overtraining will all put you at greater risk for a muscle tear. Any activity that prevents you from being 100% each time you enter the gym will put you at greater risk. In my experience, I have seen many athletes get hurt when trying to do too many repetitions past their goal. If it was supposed to be a set of five, do five then don’t try the sixth with slight deviation in form, because the supporting musculature is already fatigued. Maximum attempts do put an athlete at a possible increased chance for injury if there has not been proper preperation made in the preceding weeks during training. However when properly used max attempts are relatively safe. So it all boils down to careful planning, preparation, adaquate rest, nutrition and healthy mind.

Dre…you ask about any particular exercises…I think the DLs and Squats are of particular concern only because form is so crucial. As you mention, as the weights are increasing it makes the sitch even more susceptible. As long as you don’t let the ol’ ego take precedence over proper form and warmup–which you obviously realize the importance–I think you’re good to go. My lower back seems to get completely fried after doing heavy DLs and Squats in the same session. I’ve only done these together recently, and I think I will split them up in the future. I’ve noticed that my lower back seems to give before my quads when doing Squats after DLs. About 2 weeks ago I had a very sharp pain in my lower back for 3 or 4 days after doing heavy DLs. Stay tight! When form breaks down, rack it! I imagine that some the factors that you mention cause injuries because of lack of focus. As far as stretching before, I still don’t. I warmup on a bike and do a couple warmup sets–no science behind it really–then get at it. I DO stretch and flex between EVERY set.

Yo Dre! I’ll say deadlifts. I have hernia surgery scheduled for June 7 because I set a PR about a week ago. It hurts like hell man. Doc told me to go on vacation first, and take some Advil or something, but I can’t lift for about another 6-8 weeks–I think I’ll die! (P.s. I GOT THE 505 up twice man, but at what price?!)

Many thanks guys - Im really worried about this and will be focus on doing these sparingly, when Im up to it, and with good form. In fact, whilst my lifts are small, Ill look into a few powerlifting classes for form cause at 30 I feel like I should be a bit smarter about this stuff. Thanks for the call on hernia’s infinity - my dad is strong as an ox at 65 but my uncle and cousin had some serious predisposition (I think my cousin was born with one) and I think knowing that these can do back or ab damage is invaluable.

warmups and strething won’t help. If I’m not mistaken I believe TC was still warming up. He hadn’t even reach his working weight yet. I don’t know what kind of form he use, but there are two kinds of benches, the bodybuilders bench and and the powerlifters bench. The bodybuiler’s bench will have a wider grip with the elbows at a 90 degree angle to the body higher up on the sternum. That puts alot of stretch into the pecs and shoulders.

actually I never saw any reason to do anywheres near my 1 rm. seem like a waste of time unless you are in competition. As for deadlifts, I see no reason why you would hurt yourself(providing you follow proper form) when performing such.I would use the power lifter stance and hand positions though.If you are in it for bodybuilding, themn there is no reason to lift anywhere near your 1 rm.Just my 2Cents

Regarding deadlifting, refer to Ian Kings excellent and thorough description on how to properly deadlift in a previous heavy metal issue. When you break it down into the separate phases he suggests, the movement seems to come much easier. Also some little check points that he adds in help

This is going to sound stupid but I truly believe that paranoia about injuries increases your risk of injury. The only good reason I can think of for this is that fear makes you apprehensive and tense, rather than relaxed and focused. The result is you second guess your every movement and end up compromising your strength.

It has also been demonstrated to me that you are more likely to injure yourself if you are not properly hydrated.

I found some good stuff on injuries last night eg (1) strong abs lessen the chance of ruptures (2) dont bounce (of course) (3) barbell only work for chest and shoulders increases stress (4) skull crushers are a risk for the elbows (5) when pressing or curling a strong stable wrist reduces the chance of wrist injusry (6) and the old behind the neck press and lat pulldown is high risk for shoulders and upright rows are risky for shoulders and wrist. Ill be sure to check IK’s deadlift description. Agree that paranoia about injuries is a problem but I feel like I should be forewarned about the risks and I think part of it is a sign that I know should have got some proper coaching on the power lifts. Speaking of paranoia, if anyone is still with me, can anyone give me some info on hernias eg what does a hernia look like and feel like (is it always pain or does it start with minor discomfort), where do they occur and are there any warning signs?

Agrees with NS. Too much worrying is gonna mess you up…it makes you tight. Just warm up a bit beforehand and keep form good…and RELAX. As a martial artist, I can tell you most injuries occour when someone is tight…be it during stretching, sparring, or lifting…if you are nervous or tense…your an accident waiting to happen…so getting this muscle tear phobia…isn’t going to help bro. Just warm up, use good form, and RELAX!!

NS, I agree with you. Reading about TC’s pec tear increased the number of related injuries and gym sissies by 235%. Thanks! So now that I am benching those little pink dumbbells after I warm up by running a 5K, I would like to share a brief injury tale that will ruin everyone’s squat. At a powerlifting meet a few months ago in New York (I’m going to be vague because it was a pretty infamous incident, and I feel bad for the guy and don’t want to bring him any more embarassment/pain than he already has), a guy squatting around 750 fell forward onto his knees, bending his legs underneath him and of course the weight went crashing down behind him. Squashing him into a sort of power kneel, like if you failed on a “sissy” squat. He ended up ripping apart both quads and is finally now walking again.

I do promise to deal with the phobia. Having said that, Ive been overdoing things since the 70s and am having something of a “try harder not to gore the flounder” day :wink: so for future reference I just remembered that (1) straight legged dead lifts are a major injury risk and (2) benching to mid chest (rather than the wide arm/to neck bodybuilder style) reduces risk of pec damage (3) heavy and severe cheat curls risk bicep tears and lower back damage (4) knees behind toes in squats and back straightish to reduces the risk or herniated or compressed disks. (5) alot of squat injuries happen in sloppy lift from rack and backstep…