A Bodybuilder's Guide To Injury Prevention

Aching joints. Sore muscles. Stiff back. These are some of the many complaints most bodybuilders complain of. This article will describe some of the symptoms of common injuries and describe how to prevent them from occurring.

Aching joints. Sore muscles. Stiff back. These are some of the many complaints most bodybuilders complain of. Injuries are a common problem with any type of athlete but is highly prevalent in the bodybuilding community due to the physical and psychological stress placed on the body. Injuries can cause you to lose the gains you have made, cause you to miss workouts, lead to poor sleeping habits, and even end a promising career. This article will describe some of the symptoms of common injuries and describe how to prevent them from occurring.


  1. Tendonitis: Inflammation of the tendon connecting muscle to bone.
  2. Strain: Over-stretch/over-use of a muscle.
  3. Sprain: Over-stretching a ligament connecting two bones.
  4. Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa sack which serves as padding between a muscle and a bony prominence.
  5. Avulsion: Complete tearing of a muscle. Typically along the junction between the muscle and its tendon.
  6. Contusion: Bruising caused by impact.
  7. Fracture: Breakage of a bone. Can be complete, partial, or from compression.


  1. Neck Strain: Injury resulting from undo stress placed on the muscles of the neck. Common during shoulder shrugs, squats, etc.
  2. Pectoral Tear: Injury resulting from avulsion/tearing of the tendon connecting the Pectoralis Major to the humerous. Most often seen in people who overuse anabolic steroids (discussed later). A minor tear will be painful and may demonstrate minimal bruising. A major tear will result in a balling of the muscle towards the sternum with a significant amount of bruising.
  3. Elbow Tendonitis:
    • Triceps Tendonitis: Pain along the tendon of the triceps connecting into the pointed part of the elbow. Resulting from overuse.
    • Lateral Epicondylitis / Tennis Elbow: Pain along the lateral epicondyle (outer bone on the upper portion of the forearm). Results from strain placed along the origin of the extensor muscles of the forearm. Can ultimately result in tearing of these muscles.
    • Medial Epicondylitis/ Golfer's Elbow: Pain at the medial epicondyle (inner bone on the upper portion of the forearm). Due to overuse of the flexor muscles of the wrist usually indicated by pain with gripping weights.
  1. Back Strain/Sprain: Indicated by pain at center of lower back, along top of gluteal muscles, or along paraspinal muscles. Usually resulting from lifting too much weight or using poor form during squats or deadlifts.
  2. Knee Strain/Sprain: Various injuries include meniscal tears, patellar tendonitis, ACL tears, bursitis. Will be indicated by pain along the joint line of the knee, behind the knee joint, or just below the knee cap along the patellar tendon.
  3. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: Soreness in a muscle that has been worked. Typically occurs within 24-48 hours and should be gone within 72 hours. Resulting from build up of cortisol, lactic acid, or micro tears in the muscle.


Preventing an injury should be at the top of every bodybuilder's list. The slogan "No pain, No gain" is not only false but a good way to hurt yourself. Here are a few ideas to prevent injury.

  1. Warm Up: Perform 15-20 repetitions of the exercise you are preparing to do using very light weight. You can also aid the warm-up process by walking on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes before your workout.
  2. Stretch: After warming up, stretch the muscles you are preparing to work. Take the joint to the end of its range of motion and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It is important to hold the stretch and not bounce. Bouncing a non-warm, non-stretched muscle can result in injury.
  3. Focus: Keep your mind on what you are doing. The easiest way to hurt yourself or someone else in the gym is to no pay attention to what you are doing. It can be very easy to drop a plate or dumb bell on your foot if you are watching the girls in the aerobics room or chatting with your buddy. Maintaining focus will also help to keep your form proper and to give a safe spot to your partner.
  4. Diet: A diet high in protein will help to maintain muscle fiber strength and help to promote a quicker recovery. Supplements such as Glutamine will also help to speed recovery.
  5. Shoes: DO NOT WEAR SANDALS TO THE GYM!!!! Open-toed shoes offer no protection whatsoever against falling plates, other people stepping on your foot, or catching a toenail on the edge of a machine. Wear stiff-soled comfortable shoes. If you do much running or walking you should replace your shoes every 3-4 months.
  6. Wrapping: Using knee wraps during heavy squats help to protect your knee joints. They do this by helping to increase external pressure and distribute strain across a larger area. Wrist wraps are useful during heavy lifts such as deadlifts or shrugs. They not only prevent you from dropping the weight but will allow you to lift heavier due to the fact that you don't have to worry about your grip.


If you do happen to get injured here are a few of my recommendations to a speedy recovery.

  1. Go see a doctor: If the injury is serious enough to see a doctor then you probably need to. Postponing the inevitable will only delay recovery time and the amount of time to get back in the gym.
  2. PRICE: This is a simple saying to follow after an injury
    P: Protection: Protect the injured area from further injury by supporting it with a brace or splint.
    R: Rest: Give the injured area time to heal. Typically symptoms should resolve within 48 hours.
    I: Ice: Your best friend. Helps to limit inflammation, swelling, and internal blood loss caused by injury. Will also decrease amount of scar tissue that will circulate to the injured area.
    C: Compression: Application of an ace wrap or towel placed over the injured area will help to decrease swelling.
    E: Elevation: Elevate the injured area above the level of your heart. This will help to slow blood flow to the area which will help to decrease blood loss and swelling.
  3. Use Common Sense: If performing a certain exercise exasperates your symptoms, don't do it. Give your body a little therapeutic rest and let the injury heal. Missing one workout or exercise will not cause you any harm.

I hope this article will help you the reader to know how to prevent injuries in the gym. Jon.