“Five to ten students.” That’s how many St. Paul’s students are affected by workout related injuries each year, says St. Paul’s School coach and trainer Chris Stipe, ATC.
When it comes to injuries in the weight room, lack of warming up and stretching is one of the main mistakes made by students.
“Warm up well, stretch well before; stretch well after. But, you have to stretch correctly also,” says Stipe.
A warm up is usually a high repetition, low intensity, quick paced exercise used to increase blood flow to the muscles. This quick, light movement raises the temperature of the muscles and makes them more elastic and flexible than a cold, stiff muscle.
Stretching, however, is different from warming up. Stretching helps relax the muscles after the warm up. When done properly, stretching loosens the muscles and makes them less prone to injury. In addition, stretching can also help build muscle by increasing muscular circulation and can eliminate next-day soreness.
“When it comes to the actual injuries, strains are the most common among students,” says Stipe.
According to mayoclinic.com, a strain is defined as a stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon. Strains often occur in the lower back and in the hamstring muscle in the back of the thigh.
According to Stipe, other leading causes of injury in the weight room include improper technique and an excess amount of weight. Improper technique can pull or tear delicate tissue very easily. Each part of the human body has certain bio-mechanical pathways (natural way the body moves). Thus, it’s important to be technically sound in weight room technique. Also, too much weight presents a potential for injury. If the weight has to be jerked or heaved up, it’s too heavy, says Stipe.
When it comes to St.Paul’s sports programs educating its young athletes about proper warm up, stretching, and weight lifting technique, Stipe notes, “I think they do a good job, but there’s always room for improvement.”
Stipe notes that weight-lifting is not suitable for everyone and that students should check with a doctor before beginning any weight training to avoid and reduce the risk of injury.