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Injuries in Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting

Summary of a review article on characteristics of injuries in Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting.

Who

Competitive 663 Olympic weightlifters (at least 108 females) and 472 powerlifters (females: 50, males: 422) without disability.

Design

Systematic review of 9 observational studies (weightlifting 6, powerlifting 4).

Outcome measures

  • injury prevelence
  • injury incidence

Main results

  • Olympic weightlifting:

    • 2.4-3.3 injuries per 1000 hours of training
    • most common localizations of injuries: low back, knee, shoulder, wrist, neck
    • mainly muscle and tendon injuries
    • 20-60% acute injuries, 25-30% overuse injuries
    • 90% of injuries do not cause athletes to rest for more than a day. Only 0.5% of injuries required rest for more than 3 weeks.
  • Powerlifting:

    • 1.0-4.4±4.8 injuries per 1000 hours of training
    • most common localizations of injuries: shoulder, low back, elbow, knee, chest
    • mostly muscle pulls, tendonitis and cramps
    • 20-60% were acute injuries, 25% chronic
    • 20% injuries required the athlete to rest for more than a week.
    • on average the athletes were forced to rest for 11.5 days after the injury.
  • For comparison, injuries in other sports:

    • tack and field: 3.6 injuries per 1000 hours
    • alpine skiing: 1.7 injury per 1000 hours
    • American football: 9.6 injuries per 1000 hours
    • wrestling: 5.7 injuries per 1000 hours

Take home message

For a clinician
Weightlifting and powerlifting have relatively low injury incidence. Most injuries are acute muscle injuries and does not cause long disruption to the training schedule. Low back, shoulder, and knee are most commonly injured.
For a parent
Weightlifting and powerlifting have relatively low injury incidence. Low back, shoulder, and knee are most commonly injured.
For an athlete
Weightlifting and powerlifting have relatively low injury incidence. if injury happens, low back, shoulder, and knee are most commonly injured.

Original article

Aasa U, Svartholm I, Andersson F, Berglund L. Injuries among weightlifters and powerlifters: a systematic review. British journal of sports medicine. 2017 Feb 1;51(4):211-9.

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