Stay in the game longer—injury prevention

Written by: Sarah Strong

When we load unthinkable amounts of weight on the bar on a regular basis, we are bound to see injuries from time to time. Fortunately, a variety of tools exist to help with recovery and injury prevention. 

Dr. Meena Nang, PT DPT, has been powerlifting since March 2018 and makes some important observations about the effects of powerlifting on the body. Dr. Nang stated that much of the risk involved in powerlifting stems from a lack of mobility. Therefore, if lifters make mobility a priority, it can reduce their risk of injury. Dr. Nang also noted that “a major issue can be disc herniations, muscle strains, and nerve impingement issues.  All of these issues come from poor form and mobility deficits, so making sure that we address these issues is key to injury prevention.” 

When it comes to form, lifting with a coach proves extremely beneficial. Dr. Nang also advises not to ego lift and to always follow the coach’s program. Many injuries stem from off program maxing out or simply not following the advice of a trained professional. 

To increase mobility, there are many options for lifters:

  • Warm-up before lifting—not warming up before lifting, especially lifting heavy, increases your risk for injury. Make sure you don’t skip the warm-up—use mobility sticks, bodyweight exercises, etc to properly prepare your muscles for your lifts of the day.
  • Yoga- Yoga increases mobility, balance, and breathing. Many commercial gyms offer yoga included in the membership. In addition, there are thousands of free yoga videos online. The Youtube Channel “Yoga With Adriene” has videos for all levels of practice with specific breakdowns for nearly any imbalance. 
  • Massage—getting regular massages will break down adhesions that prevent the body from being it’s most mobile. Going to a licensed massage therapist would likely yield the best results; but, there are also tools to use on yourself at home. These include foam rollers, massage guns, lacrosse balls, and the TheraCane. 
  • Physical therapy—PTs are great for identifying imbalances in the body and giving exercises to fix said imbalances. Dr. Nang added that powerlifters need a different approach than the average patient, though. She advised that powerlifters seeking a PT should find someone skilled in manual therapy. 
  • Chiropractic care—Spinal manipulation is said to have numerous health benefits, one of which being increased joint mobility and function. It also decreases the degeneration of the joints and connective tissues. 

If you are seeking professional help in your recovery, make sure to do your research before choosing a provider. As powerlifters, we often come across well-meaning professionals who do not understand the sport and attempt to get us to stop lifting altogether. Dr. Nang also added that you should not listen to an MD/chiro/therapist who tells you to stop lifting: “You absolutely can continue to lift and you can avoid injury by utilizing proper form, lifting within your body's capacity (no ego lifting!), and maintaining normal ROM.”

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