Lifting heavy weights can be a really effective way of building up your body, but it’s also one of the most common causes of gym injuries. It’s important to know how to do it safely. Although it can be frustrating if you have to take time out and can’t keep pushing to achieve your goals, this really isn’t an area where you can afford to make a mistake because you could end up with lasting problems.
The Risks Of Lifting
When you lift, you’re probably thinking about your arms and your stomach muscles, but your back is also doing a lot of work. It’s easy to strain the muscles, especially in the lower back, and this can result in injuries that hurt for weeks and get worse if you try to exercise before they’ve healed. A torn muscle can mean months of injury and, worst of all, spinal injuries can be with you for life. If you learn how to lift safely, however, the risk of anything going wrong is very much reduced.
Are You Fit To Lift?
The first thing you need to know is whether or not you are in good enough shape to start lifting. You may want to consult a spinal specialist about this. The Detroit Lions have an ongoing relationship with Healthquest Chiropractic, so they can be confident that they are fit enough to go into a game. If you have problems, in most cases there are simple daily exercises you can do that will build up strength in your muscles and get you into condition to lift safely.
Prepare Your Muscles
Everybody knows that you should warm up before you start exercising, but many don’t realize that this isn’t simply a case of getting your blood pumping; it’s about loosening the individual muscles you’ll be using. When it comes to your back, the best way to do this is to roll your shoulders and gently twist your upper body from side to side. Stretching your arms out sideways and gently moving them in circles is also helpful. It’s advisable to spend about ten minutes on this before you start working out.
When you are new to a gym, you should be taken around it by a member of staff and shown how to use each of the machines safely. Unfortunately, advice on how to use dumbbells sometimes gets forgotten. The first rule is to resist the temptation to lift something too heavy, even if everyone else in the gym is taking on tougher tasks and you’re worried about looking weak. If you work out sensibly, you’ll soon catch up. The second rule is to think carefully about your balance and make sure that you’re spreading weight evenly across your body, whether you’re using one weight or two. The third is to breathe in gently as you lift and out as you lower the weight, thus keeping your blood pressure steady and maintaining better control. Avoid rushing and never do the same hard exercise two days in a row.
Problems caused by weightlifting don’t always manifest in acute pain. If, after lifting, you feel a dull ache or a stiffness that lasts for two or more days, you should avoid doing any more lifting until it has completely gone away. If it lasts for more than a week you should see a doctor or physiotherapist about it. Take it easy in your day-to-day activities and try hot baths to relax your back muscles.
Be Properly Equipped
The first piece of equipment you will need when lifting is a good pair of shoes. These should have flexible soles and a good grip because a slip while you’re lifting can have nasty consequences. You will also need to make sure that the weights and any lifting machinery you’re using is in good condition, with weights properly secured so that they can’t slide along or off the bar.
If you are doing serious workouts involving lifting on a long-term basis, you are highly likely to experience minor back problems at some point, but if you manage them effectively they don’t need to be disabling. A well-planned gym exercise program will gradually build you up to the point where injuries are less likely and will leave you in better shape for life, even if you eventually stop. It’s a great way to boost your long-term health and set yourself up to remain active throughout your life.