What are the most common injuries in Bodybuilding?
Bodybuilding is intense and requires extreme dedication to training and nutrition. There’s always a pressing deadline for competitions and a drive to be the best at your sport. You put in the hard work and hope your body rewards you with continued growth. But what happens when your body doesn’t play nice and you get injured? Can you still train and can injuries be avoided altogether?
It’s predicted that approximately 50% of bodybuilders will experience an injury at least every 12 months. This can be detrimental to your training, ranking and overall longevity in the sport.
So what are some common injuries in bodybuilding?
1. Muscle Strains and Tears
Muscle strains occur when you overload and / or overstretch the muscle fibres. This can occur suddenly and result in a sharp jolt of pain along with muscle weakness, or it can come on gradually over time. Muscle strains are actually microtears in the muscle fibres that cause soreness and a reduction in function.
When the microtears become larger they can cause significant swelling, bruising and pain with loss of strength and function.
2. SLAP Tears in the shoulder
SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior and basically means there is a torn piece of cartilage inside the ball and socket joint of the shoulder. The cartilage (labrum) forms a ring around the socket and helps to stabilise your upper arm bone. When you get a SLAP tear, this cartilage tears from the top (Superior) and goes from the front (Anterior) to the back (Posterior) of the socket.
The symptoms of a SLAP tear include pain deep inside the shoulder, reduced range of movement, pain in certain positions and decreased ability to lift heavy objects—especially overhead.
Similar to muscle tears, SLAP tears can happen suddenly due to poor form, falling or jerking the shoulder, or can occur gradually over time from repetitive loading.
3. Spinal Disc Injuries
The spine is protected by boney segments called vertebrae. In between these bones lies rubbery discs that contain a jelly-like substance and provide cushion to the bones and added protection to the spine while allowing movement through the segments.
Whenever the spinal column is overloaded with poor form, poor posture or from exceeding the muscle’s threshold, injury to the spine can occur. One very common injury is disc herniation where part of the disc shifts and causes pain and swelling. This can also cause numbness, tingling and weakness through your limbs when the disc shifts into a nerve or into the spinal cord itself.
4. Tendon and Ligament Injuries
Due to the repetitive nature required in training for bodybuilding, tendons and ligaments are prone to irritation over time.
The most common areas for tendon and ligament injuries are elbows and knees. This is due to the repetitive (and often heavy) forces moving through the joint as it acts as a lever.
Common symptoms of tendinitis or ligament sprains include pain, swelling, tightness around the joint, loss of power or inability to lift heavy objects and sometimes tenderness to touch. Although the symptoms can come on suddenly, it's more common for the symptoms to come on over time and gradually increase. The pain may start as a general ache or tightness and then gradually increase to throbbing even when the tendon/ ligament is not being used.
So can injuries be prevented altogether?
You can reduce your risk of injuries by making sure you stay very strict with your form and always watching your posture even when not training. Regular maintenance is also important to help prepare your body for high level exercise. This can include things like recovery sessions, stretching, mobility work and soft tissue work with a physio or massage therapist.
Making sure you train your stabilising muscles can also help reduce your risk of injuries. It can be very easy to get caught up in only focusing on the large global muscles that produce a lot of power; make sure you put in work on your small muscles that help protect your joints too. Examples of stabilising muscles include deep neck flexors, multifidus and serratus anterior.
Another tip for reducing injury risk is to plan out your gym sessions strategically. Some exercises are better to be performed at the start of the session after your warm-up when the muscles are less fatigued. Taking the time to work out exactly how each training session should look and progress can help you manage the loading of the muscles, joints and tendons.
So can ALL injuries be avoided forever? Sadly, no. Sometimes things just happen no matter how prepared you were for them. A variety of factors can come into play or you might just be an unlikely victim of a freak accident. Life is unpredictable and that’s ok, but by being better prepared for the “expected” injuries in your sport, you can reduce your risks and increase your knowledge so you know exactly what to do should one of these injuries happen to you.
At Trilogy Physiotherapy our Physiotherapists, Christina Hart and Naren Vasudeva have treated bodybuilders and understand the requirements of the sport. If you are a bodybuilder and would like to discuss your risk factors for injury or seek treatment for any current injuries please feel free to book online using the button above.
Rashid, J. (n.d.). The most common injuries in bodybuilding: How to recover fast and prevent them. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from https://thefitwizard.com/the-most-common-injuries-in-bodybuilding-how-to-recover-fast-and-prevent-them/ Terry Gemas, M. (n.d.). SLAP tear shoulder injury and treatment. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from https://www.sports-health.com/sports-injuries/shoulder-injuries/slap-tear-shoulder-injury-and-treatment