As more people head to gyms to reap the benefits of strength training, the prevalence of related
injuries increases, according to a study conducted by the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Scientists at the institute’s Center for Injury Research and Policy discovered that U.S. hospital emergency departments treated more than 970,000 injuries related to weight training between 1990 and 2007. The injury rate increased by almost 50% during that 18-year period.

Injuries were most prevalent among males (82%) and among youths aged 13–24 years (47%) and were typically sustained while using free weights. Common diagnoses included sprains and strains and soft-tissue injuries; 65% of them resulted from a free weight dropping on a person. People aged 45 and older had the highest increase in injuries during the 18-year span. Those aged 55 and older typically sustained injuries from overexertion while using machines. Females also experienced an increase in injury rates.

Quality fitness professionals are in a position to bring these numbers down. “Before beginning a weight training program, it is important
that people of all ages consult with a health professional, such as a doctor or athletic trainer, to create a safe training program based on age and capabilities,” stated study author Dawn Comstock, PhD.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (2010; [38], 765–71).