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10 most common chronic strength training injuries - and how to avoid them

Strength training exercises use bodyweight or equipment to build and strengthen muscles. Strength training is an extremely effective way to become stronger and fitter, protect bone health and muscle mass, burn calories, and improve metabolism, mobility, and flexibility. The common strength training exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, deadlifts, squats, lunges, bench presses, and bicep curls.

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While strength training is excellent for your fitness, you should be careful to prevent injuries. A majority of the injuries happen because of poor or improper technique when strength training. When you do not work out in the right way, you will strain certain body parts resulting in some common injuries.

Here is an introduction to 10 of the most common chronic strength training injuries alongside tips to avoid them:

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Knee injuries: Exercises that put excess pressure on the leg such as squats can cause a knee injury. The knee is largely inflexible with limited alternatives for movement. Knee injuries happen when the connective tissue is torn or when there is a dislocation in the knee. To prevent knee injuries, plant your feet firmly on the ground before and during an exercise and apply equal pressure to both knees.

Shoulder strain: Shoulder strain is a common injury that occurs due to improper form, excessive weight, and exercise errors. In most instances, a shoulder strain damages the rotator cuff that joins the arms to the body. An injury to the rotator cuff might be partial and damage the soft tissues only or it might completely tear the rotator cuff from the bones. Ensure you warm up properly to prepare the shoulder muscles before you begin your workout. Also, avoid exercises that put too much strain on the shoulder. Always follow expert advice when the exercise is risky to maneuver.


Back strain: A back strain happens when you exert too much pressure on the back muscles. Common exercises that might cause back strain include deadlifts, bench presses, and curls. Proper technique is the best way to avoid back strain. Make sure that the back is straight, engaged, and supported when working out with weights. Also, avoid straining your back with heavy weights when starting your exercise. Instead, increase the weights progressively to allow the muscles to adjust to the tension.

Disc herniation: Discs join the upper body to the lower body. Disc herniation happens when excess pressure causes dislocation of the discs from their natural position. In many instances, disc herniation causes localized back pain and tingling that travels through the legs. To prevent disc herniation, ensure that you stand straight and maintain the spine's natural curve throughout your exercise. Also, avoid exercises that put too much strain on the discs.


Lateral elbow tendonitis: This injury affects the tendon of the elbow and is often caused by over-gripping. When you injure the elbow tendon, you will feel an ache outside the elbow and a stretch of the muscles when you straighten your hands. Start your workout with heavy gripping exercises to warm up your entire body when starting your workout. Exercises that improve the flexibility of the elbow such as pushups are also effective ways to avoid lateral elbow tendonitis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome: This type of injury occurs due to strain on the median nerve that passes through the wrist. Activities that bend the wrists forward or backward significantly such as push-ups and planks are some common causes of the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. You can avoid this injury by ensuring that the chosen exercises spread motion and pressure evenly. Also, avoid exercise that involves bending the wrist significantly.


Sternum strain: The sternum is the bone that joins the two clavicles on either side of the chest. Sternum strain can occur when you put too much pressure on the sternum when performing exercises that target the chest. You can prevent a strain on the sternum by avoiding extremely heavy weights. It is also important to work alongside another person to prevent a direct fall on the chest.

Pectoral strain: Like the sternum strain, pectoral strain is a common injury of the chest muscles. Pectoral muscles are found at the front of the chest and they might tear due to excessive strain or repetitive movements. Stretching the pectoral muscles before a workout will help prevent muscle strain. Also, work with weights that you are comfortable with.


Bicep tendon rupture: A tear in the bicep tendon might occur when you attempt to curl a weight that is too heavy or when you drop the dumbbell suddenly. The rupture can be a partial tear that damages the soft tissue or a complete tear that detaches the tendon from the bone. You can prevent this type of injury by working with a weight that you can handle comfortably. Also, make sure that you maintain proper movement and posture when working on the biceps.

Joint dislocations: These are common injuries that affect any of the body’s joints including the knee, shoulder, hip, or ankle. Dislocations occur due to extreme strain or unbalanced pressure on the joints. In such instances, the extreme pressure pushes the bone out of its natural position resulting in swelling, bruising, numbness, and pain during movement. Maintaining safety precautions when working out is the best way to prevent dislocation. You should always wear protective gear and use non-skid rugs when you work out. Also, observe proper technique and ensure that you put even pressure on the joints. Finally, avoid repetitive exercises that strain your joints.

Credit: Harlie Raethel | Source: Unsplash


Everyone is prone to injury regardless of the expertise, intensity, or type of exercise. However, you can reduce your risk of injury by following simple workout precautions. Make sure your consult an expert trainer when starting your exercise. Stretch for five minutes before and after every workout to improve your flexibility. Also, know your body and don't push yourself to the limit. Finally, rest for two or three days every week to give your body time to recover after a grueling exercise.

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