Most Common Weightlifting Injuries

Weightlifting also referred to as resistance training is a widely popular pastime with proven health benefits, but like any physical activity there are some risks of injury associated with training.

Why is weightlifting good for you?

Weightlifting has been shown to increase muscle mass and strength, boost endurance, promote fat loss, improve mood, support healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels, protect your heart, and improve your bone density. Thus, anyone wishing to improve their health should strongly consider implementing resistance training into their usual workout routine.

What is the risk of injury when weight lifting?

The literature suggests most people will sustain 2 to 4 injuries per 1000 hrs lifting. To put in simpler terms 1 to 2 injuries per year. Compared to other types of sports this is a relatively small number. For instance, track and field athletes experience 3.5 injuries per 1000 hrs of training and football players 9.6 injuries per 1000 hrs of training.

Why does injury occurs?

One of the fundamental principles of weight training is to lift weights to promote new muscle growth and stimulate other positive physiologic adaptations. For the weight to produce a stimulatory effect it has to be heavy enough to stress our muscles.  Our joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are designed to handle a certain range of weight that is based on evolutionary experience. Therefore, if the weight is too heavy, the excessive strain can rupture the natural bonds that hold our tissue together causing injury. 

Additionally, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are very much like a mechanical machines that can break down if  they are used too often without proper maintenance and proper technique. Our musculoskeletal structures when overused, especially during periods of fatigue are at risk for biologic breakdown and injury.

What are the most common injured areas?

The most commonly injured areas are the shoulders, the knees, and the low back.


Your shoulders are designed to be non weight bearing joints. Thus, lifts such as shoulder press and bench press expose the shoulders to weights they were never designed to experience. Moreover, many people use wide grip positioning to help them lift heavier weights. This position which places the shoulders in abduction and external rotation places more strain on shoulder structures.


Your knees can experience up to 6 times body weight during squats. The forces on your knees are highest from approximately 70 to 90 degrees of flexion. While deeper squats potentially elicit a greater stimulatory effect on muscles, in an unhealthy knee, squats to parallel and deeper can magnify injury.

Low back

During training exercises such as squats and dead lifts your low back can endure forces  6 to 10 times body weight. In the setting of improper technique, excess weight, and fatigue; injury to vital structures are common place.

Prevention Tips

  • Warm up properly to increase blood flow and prime your muscles for activity
  • Perform heaviest lifts at beginning of work out prior to fatigue setting in
  • Try to minimize wide grip upper body exercise
  • Only consider deep and parallel squats if you have healthy knees
  • Make sure to have proper low back lordosis and not to flex your back too much during squats & dead lifts