The study is the first published analysis of the epidemiology of injuries directly related to weight training across all age groups of the general population treated in U.S. emergency departments during the last two decades.
Data for this study were collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The NEISS dataset provides information on consumer product-related and sports and recreation-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments across the country.
Data from the study showed that males (82 percent) and youths aged 13 to 24 years (47 percent) sustained the largest proportion of weight training-related injuries. The majority of injuries occurred during the use of free weights (90 percent), and the most common mechanism of injury were weights dropping on a person (65 percent). Injuries to the upper (25 percent) and lower trunk (20 percent) were the most common followed by injuries to the hand (19 percent). The most frequent injury diagnoses were sprains and strains (46 percent) followed by soft tissue injuries (18 percent).
Young and Old are Injuring Themselves with Weights
While youths (ages 13-24) had the highest number of injuries, the largest increase in the incidence of injuries occurred among those aged 45 years and older. People aged 55 and older were more likely than their younger counterparts to be injured while using weight-training machines, and to sustain injuries from overexertion and lifting or pulling.
Youths 12 years and younger were also getting hurt with weights. The youths more likely to be injured while using free weights. This age group had a higher proportion of lacerations and fractures, and were more likely to sustain injuries as a result of having a weight drop or fall on them than those aged 13 years and older.
The study also found that while males had the highest number of injuries, there was a larger increase in the incidence of injury among female participants.
“Weight training may still be a male dominated activity,” said Dr. Comstock, also a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “However, the increase in incidence among female participants is likely the result of more women weight training as it becomes a more accepted fitness activity for women.”
Reducing the Risk of Weight Training Injuries
“Before beginning a weight training program, it is important that people of all ages consult with a health professional, such as a doctor or athletic trainer, to create a safe training program based on their age and capabilities,” said study author Dawn Comstock, PhD. “Getting proper instruction on how to use weight lifting equipment and the proper technique for lifts, as well as providing trained supervision for youths engaging in weight training, will also reduce the risk of injury.”
Source: American Journal of Sports Medicine, http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/02/01/0363546509351560.abstract