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5 Tips for Injury Free Weightlifting

January 7, 2024 by Tiara Brooks, RMT

Tips for Injury Free Weightlifting in TorontoWeightlifting is the process of increasing strength by using weights or another external force to challenge the muscular system to increase overall strength. It is also commonly referred to as strength training. Common strength training exercises include push exercises (barbell squats, push-ups, bench press, overhead press etc.), pull exercises (deadlifts, rows, lat pulldowns, etc.) and core exercises (planks, dead bugs, sit ups, Russian twists, etc.).

Some key aspects of weightlifting include:

Resistance: An external force used to create a stimulus for muscle growth and development. This includes dumbbells, barbells, bands and/or gravity.

Progressive overload: In order to gain strength, it is imperative to progressively increase the demand on muscle over time. This can be done by increasing the weight used (the load), the amount of repetitions and/or sets (the volume), or decreasing tempo and thus increasing the time under tension (TUT).

Full range of motion (ROM): For most exercises, it is important to strengthen your joints through their entire available range in order to avoid potential injury.

Common Weightlifting Injuries


Muscle strains occur when muscle fibers are over lengthened or torn. This can happen from sudden quick movement with inadequate control, or from lifting a load that exceeds the muscle capacity. This is different from the soreness that occurs after weightlifting, known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which is the result of very small micro-tears in the muscle tissue that are necessary for muscle growth.

Disc Herniation

Disc herniations are injuries to the intervertebral disc that result in the displacement of the nucleus pulposus (the material inside the disc). This can be caused by age-related degeneration, repetitive motions (usually flexion and rotation), or by loading that exceeds the tissue’s capacity – such as a very heavy deadlift with improper form.

How Can Massage Therapy Help with Weightlifting Injuries?

Your massage therapists will conduct a brief assessment at the start of your appointment to pinpoint areas of tension and/or postural or joint dysfunction. From there, the massage therapist can discern exactly which areas need to be treated in order to alleviate pain and help promote healing. Massage therapy also works to calm down the nervous system which can be more sensitive in the presence of injury.

After the treatment, your massage therapist may provide some home exercises to help you self manage the injury, or suggest a referral to another health practitioner (such as a physiotherapist or chiropractor) for further assessment and treatment if needed.

5 Tips for Injury Free Weightlifting

1. Form

Always ensure you are performing the exercise correctly. There are many different variations of “correct form” for most exercises that may bias different muscle groups, but you should be intentional with your movements. Recording yourself from various angles is a great way to evaluate your form.

2. Tempo

Don’t rush your exercises. If you find yourself speeding up to push through the exercise, the weight is most likely too heavy. A good rule of thumb is to follow the 2:1:2:1 tempo ratio. For example, when performing a squat – think about sitting into the squat for 2 seconds, come to a slight pause at the bottom for 1 second, stand up from the squat for 2 seconds and take 1 second at the end of your repetition to prepare for the next one.

3. Warm-up and Cool down

Always ensure you are performing an adequate warm-up and cool down before and after weightlifting. Prior to strength training, prepare your body for the loads you will be placing on it. For example, performing deep bodyweight squats, deep lunges, back mobility drills, followed by slow tempo squats with the bar alone would be a good preparation for heavier barbell squats. After strength training, you can incorporate some stretching (static or dynamic), or some foam rolling as a cool down.

4. Seek help

Don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional (personal trainer, physiotherapist or chiropractor) for advice on how to structure your training and ensure your form is correct to decrease the risk of injury.

5. Have a plan

Always have a plan! Having a structured weightlifting regimen that includes a variety of exercises, adequate rest, and focuses on progressive overload will help you stay organized and achieve your goals.

What To Do if a Weightlifting Injury Occurs?

Acute or Traumatic Injuries

You should always seek the help of a professional such as a physiotherapist or chiropractor for acute weightlifting injuries that persist beyond several days. But there are a few things you can do to start the healing process: Relative rest, Compression,elevation, and gentle movement.

Chronic Injuries

If you’ve been weightlifting for some time and you have noticed persistent aches and pains that come back again and again, don’t just ignore them and try to push through. Seeking treatment from a professional can help alleviate pain by treating its root cause, improve your overall function, and optimize your training.

Injury Prevention

Even if you don’t have any injuries, having a massage therapist, physiotherapist or chiropractor in your circle of care is a good idea. Receiving consistent care every few weeks can be great for your overall health & wellness, not just your strength training and performance. If you’d like to start your recovery, or are looking for a professional to help you with injury prevention, contact us or book online at Rebalance Sports Medicine today.

Tiara Brooks, RMT

Tiara Brooks is a registered massage therapist practicing at Rebalance Sports Medicine in downtown Toronto.

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T: (416) 777-9999
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Toronto, ON M5H 3B7
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