Women at risk of weight-lifting injuries

Aug 18, 2010 at 6:43 p.m. ET

Lifting barbells to get toned? That’s great. Dropping them on your toes? Not so great. You don't have to stop lifting heavy, though. You just need to learn how to keep building strength safely so you can show off those sexy Madonna-like pipes. With the growing number of women sustaining weight-lifting injuries, here are some weight-lifting safety tips to take to the gym.

Woman lifting weights

Weight-lifting injuries have skyrocketed

Weight-lifting-related injuries are up a whopping 50 percent since 1990, the US Product Safety Commission says. In fact, between 1990 and 2007, more than 25,000 people were admitted to US emergency rooms because of weight-lifting injuries. Most of the injuries were to teens between 13 and 18. Second was among people 25 to 34. According to the report, while men had a much higher rate of injury, the rate among women was rising at a much faster rate, possibly because more women are using weights at the gym and at home.

Weight-lifting injuries and equipment misuse

The primary cause of ER visits wasn't from strained muscles or torn ligaments from too much weight, to please someone like Jillian Michaels, TV celebrity and personal trainer. The injuries were instead the result of mishaps with the equipment — dropping weights on toes or getting a part of the body crushed between weights.

Weight-lifting safety tips

1Talk to an instructor for technique

It doesn't take that long to learn the proper technique to lift weights effectively, but the correct form can make all the difference as you progress. Not only is it safer, you'll get results you want, faster.

2Use a spotter

Workout buddies can offer encouragement, accountability and safety around the weight bench. A spotter can be crucial in encouraging good form and preventing injuries.

3Put your weights back in the rack

Sounds like common sense, but you've probably seen dumbbells and other pieces of equipment lying on the floor when someone hasn't taken the time to put them away. In fact, tripping over weights on the gym floor happens more often than you'd think — and is one of the leading causes of injuries. You may be starting to tire or ready to move onto the next exercise, but take a few seconds to put the weights you use back in the racks — it's just good gym courtesy.

4Wipe your hands before you grip

We're so quick to hit the weights, we may not realize that our hands can slip. If they do, especially while you're trying an exercise that leaves you vulnerable, injuries can easily occur. Inexpensive weight-lifting gloves will help with the sweaty palms and protect your hands from blisters as well.

5Know your limits

Often, people new to free weights or people trying to show off in front of friends push themselves too far and too fast, leaving themselves open to injuries. Make sure you can manage the weight you are attempting — and keep that spotter handy in case you overestimated your strength.

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