Bodybuilding is probably the most strenuous and challenging of exercise regimens, so it’s hardly surprising that a number of injuries can occur during the course of training. A number of my clients around Adelaide who both train for pleasure or competition at one stage or other have experienced some form of strain or sprain.
There is basically no way to totally prevent injuries during bodybuilding, and understanding how massage can help to alleviate much of the problems can get you back into the gym faster to continue training. I have also consulted a number of these clients and during my home visits to them, which I do on a regular basis, have instructed some preventative measures such as stretching and have done specific massage therapy to help them.
Strains and Sprains – The Most Common Injuries That Occur During Bodybuilding
Muscle strains are the injuries most frequently seen during bodybuilding. In trying to achieve a goal, and sometimes overachieving, it’s easy to push a bit too hard and wind up with a strain. Strains are torn muscles and often occur when pressure is put on a muscle that has already contracted. There are considered to be 3 kinds of strains:
- First degree strains are considered to be mild. Relatively few of the muscle fibers will have been torn, and healing from these is fast.
- Second degree strains exhibit much more damage to the muscle. Muscles that experience a moderate strain are quite sore and require a longer recovery time.
- Third degree strains usually mean that the muscle has become separated from the tendon or bone. The severity of this injury will require surgery.
Sprains are also not uncommon among bodybuilders and these involve damage to the joint. Swelling and bruising accompanies sprains and most will require rest and care to rehabilitate the joint. In extreme cases, surgery may be called for. Initially, treatment will consist of what is referred to as R.I.C.E. These letters stand for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
Where Strains and Sprains Occur
Although strains and sprains can result in muscles anywhere in the body being punished too severely during bodybuilding training, there are some spots that are special targets for discomfort and pain:
- The neck is very vulnerable and is easy to injure when doing squats or shoulder shrugs as well as exercises that result in the turtle back configuration.
- Shoulder strains are very common and are another result of trying to lift too much at one time, or of doing too many repetitions.
- Needless to say, the back is another major trouble spot. The lower and central back areas can be injured when lifting heavier weights than you should and doing squats while lifting.
- A pectoral strain or tear results from overdoing both reps and weights. The injury involves not only the pectoral muscles, but also the tendon. Rarely, the pectoral muscle or the tendon can actually rupture.
- Injuries to the legs can include strains to the thigh and/or calf muscles and sprains to the knee joint. Knees are often harmed either when lifting too much or when using machines.
Massage to the Rescue
While serious injuries such as fractures and ruptures will need the immediate attention of a doctor, most sprains and strains can be relieved by the use of massage. Strains are much quicker to heal than sprains as damage to the muscles will respond quickly to massage therapy. Both standard and deep tissue massage may be used to return the muscle to normal, and the latter will be very appropriate for the larger, more massive muscles of bodybuilders.
Massage helps to bring more blood to the affected muscle which means, in turn, that more oxygen will be available to torn muscle fibres. The immune system will also be stimulated and provide added healing power. Deep tissue massage will also reach right in and help to work out any knots that may have formed in the interior of the muscles.
Sprains differ from strains in that they involve the ligaments that help to hold the body’s joints together. Needless to say, sprains can actually take months to heal properly, especially when scar tissue has formed. Sprains respond best to light, regular massage which, as above, increase circulation to speed healing. Massage is also great at breaking down the scar tissue that often makes joints less flexible and more prone to future injury.
As injuries are certain to happen somewhere along the line during bodybuilding training, massage should be considered as vital a part of the training program as are the weights and machines. Scheduling regular massages not only helps to treat injuries as they happen, but can actually help prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Having a background in personal trainer and having worked at Sportsmed SA for a number of years, along side physios, doctors and surgeons I have learnt many tips and tricks to help my clientel progress more efficiently.