Everyone’s Lifting Weights These Days. Is It Also Causing Sports Hernias?
What do all of our favorite pro athletes have in common these days? Endorsement deals? Cool gear? More than that – today’s top athletes are better, stronger and faster. And they’re using weightlifting to get there. The professional football players that we watch on Sundays spend many hours in the gym during the week. The middle-aged woman’s general practitioner is telling her to use weights to retain muscle tone and ward off weight gain. The elderly in assisted living facilities are lifting dumb bells in group classes.
But most of us are not doing endless squats and deadlifts. Instead, we’re helping a friend move a heavy couch down a few too many flights of stairs. We’re carrying heavy bags. We’re pushing ourselves to move something that’s just too heavy. And, unlike professional athletes, we don’t have experienced trainers to guide us each time we lift a heavy item. As a result, weightlifting comes with some serious risks. Amateur athletes who lack experience or technique can sustain injuries, including a sports hernia.
A sports hernia injury is a tear in the oblique abdominal muscles. Unlike other hernias, it is not a hole in the abdominal wall, but it does come with a similar set of challenges. Sports hernias are usually sustained when people make sudden, twisting movements or change direction too quickly. Overworked or strained muscles increase risk. Any athlete of any age or skill level can sustain one, from your neighbor on his morning jog to a star running back in the NFL. It’s important to take steps to minimize your own risk, especially when weightlifting.
Many of the movements that are central to lifting weights are those that most commonly cause sports hernias. The quick jerk of a clean lift, the strain on the groin during a squat, and the resistance of training bands all have the potential to cause injury.
Using the right technique is the most important thing that you can do to avoid injury while lifting anything. Relaxing your form can be tempting when you’re only two squats from the end of a set or have one more bag of groceries to carry. But, specific techniques for lifting were designed specifically to reduce the risk of injury. Plus, using the right technique will generate better results in the long run. The most important thing to remember is to lift with your legs.
Maintaining good form, using proper technique, and taking it slow are all crucial to minimizing your risk of a sports hernia.