Fitness News – Weight Training Injury Prevention Report

It is a known fact that weight training related injuries are on the rise. This is only natural considering the fact that more people are attempting to remain fit now.

The Report in Brief

The report concerning the rise of weight training injuries that published recently (April 16, 2010) is based on Center for Injury Research. Quite a large number of large number of injuries had also been discovered by the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

This study of weight-related increases accounts for cases that occurred from 1990s to 2007. This is a time during which a 50 percent increase in injuries took place.

The largest portion of these injury increases was reported in men ages 13 to 24. Usually it was while using free weights and the majority of these were sprains and strains.

Other injuries included these: Upper body injuries, lower trunk pain, soft tissue injuries, and hand injuries. It should be noted though that even though most of the injuries that occurred in young people 18 to 24 the largest increase in incidences actually took place in people 45 and older.

The reason the older people would get hurt is because they would over-exert themselves. This often is a result of too much lifting and pulling.

There of course is an increase in women participants in weight training too. However, not as much information has yet been provided about female weight trainers.

This is only a short segment of information provided in a report about this issue. Additional information can be found in “Weight Training-Related Injuries Increasing.”

Prevention Tips

This next section is not taken from the same source as the above information about injuries. This is rather a collection of fitness safety tips related to weight training collected from a variety of publications.

There are a variety of reasons why injuries occur. This is a short list of tips based on those varying causes:

Illegal steroids-One main cause of weight training injuries is the use of anabolic steroids. People use them to obtain gains in strength and muscle. However, using steroids is illegal and can lead to torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments. These should NOT be used.

Inadequate warm-up-Another reason that injuries occur is because of not warming up properly. It is highly recommended that you stretch all the major muscles in your legs, arms, back, and abdomen before proceeding.

Inappropriate age-Sometimes adolescents who have not had their muscles fully developed can hurt themselves. Therefore, they should be under close supervision in case of injury. They should limit their weight lifting activity until after reaching puberty.

Improper technique-Sometimes people injure themselves while not using the weights the way they should be used. They also may not handle the weights the way they should be handled. Bouncing, jerking, or throwing them is a very bad idea. Sometimes a person can also extend his/her back in a way he/she should not either, or extending it too often can be dangerous.

Dangerous exercises-Sometimes there are exercises you may have been taught that are not safe. For instance, pull-downs behind the neck can put excessive stress on the neck and shoulders. In this particular case, front/lat pull-downs are recommended instead.

Barefoot Training in the Martial Arts – No Shoes is Good News!

Most Students of the Martial Arts train barefoot when they are indoors. And, most martial art systems train 80-100% of the time between four walls and on a soft mat. So, for many, training without shoes isn’t much of a challenge.

In the Martial Science, we spend 80-100% of our time training outside. We still support the barefoot training philosophy and motivate students to do the same – even when training in the park.

Why should you go shoeless? Because wearing shoes just does not look cool with your uniform.

Okay, I do believe that shoes serve a purpose and some shoes do not look as ridiculous as a pair of over-cushioned running shoes (Tabi and Five Fingers for example).

I do however, prefer being without shoes. I love to run barefoot, hike, climb and generally just not wear shoes at all. In fact, I spend about 75% or more of my time without any shoes and prefer to stretch this into my sporting activities. I am not the only one.

* Abebe Bikila, Olympic marathoner, won the first of his consecutive gold medals without shoes.

Research barefoot running in Google and you will get a lot more hits on shoeless wonders like Abebe. For example, Michael Warburton published an online paper titled, “Barefoot Running.” Warburton points out that the extra weight of shoes is worse than a few pounds around the waist. Extra weight means more energy is spent. As part of your stride, weight on your feet must adjust to a constant increase and decrease of speed.

Research shows that two 10-ounce shoes will make you more than five percent less efficient. That is good to know – especially when you consider the micro-movements the body has to make to keep from suffering an ankle injury.

Internal, External and Spatial Awareness

Next let’s talk about proprioception and don’t worry if you haven’t heard that word before – neither has Microsoft.

Proprioception (pronounced PRO-pree-o-SEP-shÉ(TM)n), from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own” and perception) is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body.

Let us associate the senses with Mind, Body and Spirit and break them into three categories (only for the sake of learning this concept):

01 External (sight, taste, smell, touch, hearing and balance) – Body

02 Internal (senses that help us to perceive pain) – Mind

03 Spatial (sense that shares feedback in relation to our world) – Spirit

Proprioception is a sense that helps us to verify where the limbs of our body are located in relation to each other and space around us. It also helps determine if we are moving at the correct speed or using the correct amount of force.

In the Martial Science – we consider Spirit to represent life-spirit and interaction with the living world around us; people, nature and animals.

We get feedback from the world around us in order to adjust and improve our lives. Well, your body needs to do the same thing in order to function properly.

If you did not have proprioception and I put a blind fold over your eyes, you would just fall over. The police test proprioception to see if someone has had too much to drink. This is because you lose this sense when you have had too much alcohol. That is why they ask you to walk on a straight line without looking at your feet. Without proprioception, we must look at our feet in order to walk.

If you watch a baby move his hands around trying to grab for something, you will notice that his hand movements stutter as they begin to learn how to develop hand and eye coordination. Every time that they reach for something new, they are creating new data and feedback to build on.

The skill to spin a sword or catch a Frisbee both require that you have a very specific SENSE of the exact positions of your limbs, your muscles and joints involved. The development of this skill has to reach level 4 of the natural learning process:

1 You are unaware of your incompetence (you don’t know you don’t know)

2 You are consciously incompetent (you know you don’t know)

3 You are consciously competent (you must think as you act)

4 You are unconsciously competent (you can act without thinking)

Let us assume that you are a martial artist that would like to have natural cat like reactions. Not only that, but you want good timing, and to be able to kick with deadly accuracy.

At first, you are going to be unaware of the fact that you cannot kick properly or with precision (1). Then you see someone kick the way you would like to and begin to understand that you do not currently have the skills you desire (2). With some training, you can kick a bag or target on command (3). Finally, with years of practice, you can kick without thinking. You react naturally (4).

This sense must reach autopilot so that you can then focus on other important areas of performance, such as contemplating alternative strategies, observing your environment or punching while kicking.

A more modern way to label proprioception is to call it movement intelligence. This is of course with the belief that proprioception is focused on feedback. When the body moves, information is sent to the brain for further investigation, calculation and adjustments.

There’s more to it than meets the eye and foot coordination.

Studies researching ankle injuries suggest that our reflexes play a bigger role in staying injury free. When you wear bigger shoes, you are not going to have as much development around the core areas of your foot and ankle. Shoes alone could be the cause of many ankle sprains, knee injuries and back pain.

Here is a quiz. Pain caused by ankle sprains has to do with:

A Strength

B Endurance

C Flexibility

D Balance

The correct answer is D – balance / proprioception.

Having a strong ankle, physical endurance or flexibility will not save you from an ankle sprain if you have not also developed the neuromuscular system to react naturally. Shoes just do not help us with this development as much going barefoot does. Imagine wearing a shoe on your hands.

Going barefoot helps to improve proprioception because you can feel more of your feet, develop more muscle memory and thus increase chances of reacting naturally. The more you can FEEL the better, as this will create more signals and thus more data. In the end, that = more balance.

It all happens so fast and on such a micro level that it is not something we can consciously adjust to in the now.

Since most martial artists already train barefoot, I am suggesting that you also do the same when you are in the park training, or lounging around the house. If you want improved kicks, you need to start from the ground up. The more often you kick and train barefoot – the better.

NOTE: You must train with shoes too if you expect to know how to move in a real life situation (we do not go barefoot in the mall). Balance is key – but before you put on the iron man suit – consider training what is inside it first.

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