I am no expert in weight lifting but I often see and treat the painful results of lifting heavy weights with compromised form. These injuries range from minor muscle strains to herniated inter-vertebral discs. You don’t want to experience these, especially the disc injuries. They cause permanent damage to disc cartilage and/or nerves and often create intense pain. This usually happens when the weightlifter becomes fatigued and rounds their back while lifting weight from the floor.
A study conducted by the Center for Injury Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital has found that the number of injuries from weight training has increased dramatically in recent years. The study found that more than 970,000 weight training-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments between 1990 and 2007. The number of injuries increased nearly 50 percent during the 18-year study period! There are many published opinions on the most common types of injuries and all include lumbar muscle strains, inter-vertebral disc damage and shoulder injuries.
Although there are no studies that I’ve seen assessing weightlifting injuries through 2013, Olympic style lifting has become very popular in recent years. Olympic lifting includes two main maneuvers using a barbell called “snatch” and “Clean and Jerk”. Doing it safely requires sharp focus and real athleticism. There are many abridged variations of these lifts that can be integrated into workouts such as “dead lifts” and “front squats”. Since we aren’t born with innate knowledge on how to do this stuff correctly it’s critical to seek instruction from trainers who specialize in Olympic lifting. Unless you plan to engage in Olympic Lifting as your primary sport, you might consider safer styles of lifting such as squats with dumbbells as opposed to a barbell. Or use a barbell with no weight or light weight. This way you get much of the benefit of Olympic Style lifts with much less risk.
It’s also a great idea to get your alignment and range of motion checked before any weightlifting program to make sure you starting with a stable foundation. I’m happy to perform an assessment and recommend corrective alignment exercises if you are integrating weight training into your work outs.