Personal Training series: Heavy weight training and injury prevention

Many people like to look their best and this requires a toned shaped body. Some people want to lose weight and this will also involve weight training. It has been found that a combination of cardiovascular exercise and weight training can get faster results because increased muscle mass will burn more calories and hence improve reduction in weight, as well as a shaped body.

If someone starts weight training from scratch injuries are often common because the correct movement patterns are unknown. Most people know that they can hire a one-on-one trainer to assist them in this process.

Weight training has many forms; if the weight training is kept at a light to moderate weight, and the movement patterns are correct, injuries can be prevented. Problems start to occur when weight training becomes very heavy. In order for muscles to grow they require a stimulus harder than the time before; training can start gradually and increasing in weight is a simple process. When a person starts to reach the maximum weight that they can push then challenges will occur.

The challenges of pushing weights higher than a person’s current maximum lifting weight will be controlling the weight when putting it into a starting position; lowering the weight in a controlled fashion; avoiding excessive joint position; and finally pushing the weight back to the start position. Sometimes lifting heavy weights will require standing, a lunge position or a position other than on a stable bench. When a person has to control a heavy weight, as well as the position of their entire body, the movement becomes very complex.

Commonly the injuries I see when someone lifts heavy weights are at the very start of the movement and in the middle of the movement. The weight is very heavy and at the start of the movement the person has to lift from a standing still position. To generate extra power a person will compensate by swinging their body to help; it is at this point that an injury may occur to the lower back, the sacroiliac joint, the knee or any other joint that is the weakest joint in the link. The time pain occurs is in the middle of the movement because the middle of the movement is the most awkward; controlling the body puts the body in its weakest position, and tissues get injured.

A client was training and wanted to be pushed more, and therefore was told to start Olympic deadlifts. She was 5 foot, of petite build, and when she explosively lifted this weight her sacroiliac joint popped. Treatment for this joint has taken several months and she now requires pilates and controlled movement training to keep her pain at a satisfactory level.

At some point in a person’s training lifting heavy weights may become necessary. If a physiotherapist can identify weak areas within the body – and the trainer is aware of these areas – then when lifting  a heavy weight in a complex movement pattern, the trainer can help a client control and prevent injury.

My advice is always to have your entire body assessed before you start lifting weights to give the trainer the information they need to prevent an injury from heavy weight training.

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Personal Training series: Predicting Injuries

No two people have the same body; and even if two people look the same their ability to withstand load can be vastly different. Commonly in the clinic my clients complain about holding good posture. They report how other colleagues in their places of work can sit with bad posture but never develop pain. Why is this?

There are some people who have a musculoskeletal system which is able to withstand the abnormal loads on their bodies in poor sitting postures: there are others who have a very low tolerance to the stress of sitting with poor posture. There may be many reasons for this but I think a major factor is simply genetics. Genetics cannot be changed. Therefore, two people should avoid comparing themselves when it comes to posture, movement and pain.

Another example of this is athletes – who play sport regularly – and get more injuries than others who may sit at home with an unhealthy lifestyle and watch TV. If you play sport you are generally going to be healthier on the inside but maybe more prone to injuries on the outside. Unfortunately this cannot be avoided as sport does put abnormal loads on the body. If the body cannot adapt to these loads then injuries will occur.Those people who sit on a sofa and eat unhealthy foods do not expose their body to the stresses of sport and in the long run may have fewer injuries and actually better joint condition.

When a physiotherapist assesses a person a bespoke testing protocol is followed; this protocol will take into consideration the movement patterns this person puts themselves through in normal daily life as well as in their sports or hobbies. This assessment is a very functionally based assessment whereby the client can see where their issues are in daily function or sport – and then has a goal to achieve in the rehabilitation process.

The physio will do a thorough examination of the musculoskeletal system and identify individual variances within each person. Physiotherapists can then report to the trainer what the potential consequences of training that person will be. This method will also identify what limitations this person may have when setting goals. When a physiotherapist and personal trainer work closely together you get a synergy like no other. The client gets fully assessed at the start and the constant feedback throughout the training process will provide a bespoke feedforward system for goal attainment and injury prevention.

When a physio and trainer work closely together injuries due to movement can be predicted. Sometimes a client can do an awkward movement once, twice, ten times but if they decided to run a marathon with the biomechanics that they have they will develop an injury. The training process must be adapted to provide help to prevent this injury increasing strengthen and flexibility in various parts of the body to enable that person still to run a marathon.

It is my intention that a client is able to train with very few major injuries; continue to train if they have minor injuries; and attain their goals on time. The client also has the benefit of knowing the physiotherapist, and of knowing that the trainer and physiotherapist are working together as a team.

Tips when wearing sunscreen and cycling

Yesterday I went cycling and was sweating in heat and hard climb. The sweat ran down my forehead and mixed with the sunscreen I had applied in the morning. It then ran into my right eye and it stung as the sunscreen lotion irritated my eye. I was climbing a hard hill at that stage and could not take my hands off the handle bars. I  let the eye get painful and by the end of the ride my eye was red from constant irritation.

My coach Gary said do not put sunscreen on your forehead and bring your helmet down to cover the gap between your glasses and your hairline. Is will soak up the sweat on your forehead.

Another useful tip I have learnt training here in Portugal.