Dec 14, 2021 / Sports Medicine

Return to Weight Lifting: A Guide for Young Athletes After Injury

Patients in the Scottish Rite for Children sports medicine clinic may lift weights as part of their primary sport training or with a strength and conditioning coach to supplement sport-specific training. When an injured athlete is released back to activities that include weight lifting, Allen Tutton, M.S., L.A.T., A.T.C., C.E.S., provides systematic instructions to ensure a safe, progressive return to training. Tutton is uniquely qualified with skills as both an athletic trainer and a corrective exercise specialist (CES). A certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the C.E.S., requires a solid understanding of the interrelationship of movement quality and exercise, a must for strength and conditioning advice for young athletes. Here are his tips for safe weight lifting:

Before You Start
  • Focus on form and technique instead of the amount of weight or number of repetitions.
  • Increase your working weight slowly after an injury or a long break from training.
    • Working weight (WW) is the repetition (not max) weight used in your workout on a normal day. 
Warm-up and Lifting
  • A warm-up is necessary to help you perform your workout at your best.
  • An optimal, dynamic warm-up includes upper and lower body stretches as well as light jogging.
  • Have a spotter with you when you begin lifting.
  • If you feel any abnormal discomfort, you must stop and rest 48 hours before trying the step again.
  • If your working weight is too heavy, decrease the weight used.
Terms to Know
  • Repetitions (reps) = number of times you perform the exercise before a rest.
  • Set = number of times you repeat the exercise and rest.

Wrap It Up
  • Each workout should not last longer than one hour.
  • Stay hydrated and rest at least 24 hours between sessions.
Managing Load: Preventing Overuse Injuries
Load can be measured in several ways:
  • Total work or repetitions done in a day.
  • Total weight lifted in a day.
  • Collection of work throughout a period, such as a week or a month.
Rushi Patel, P.T., D.P.T., SCCE, says, “A combination of how much weight is lifted, how often and for how long can all play a role in potential overuse injuries in the weight room.”
Patel offers these tips to minimize the risk of injuries:
  • All sport-related training should be considered part of the overall load. Times to reduce the weight or intensity of a weight-lifting routine include:
    • Starting a new sport or returning to sport after a break.
    • Preseason sport-specific intense training.
    • Focused sport-specific training in a camp or when learning a new skill.
  • Monitor how you feel in the first 24-48 hours after a workout. Excessive joint pain or soreness that lingers might be a sign to modify some activities related to your workouts.
To learn how nutrition can play a role in safe and effective strength training programs, read this article.

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