Dropping weights at the gym is almost always done intentionally, and it’s no surprise that sooner or later, the men who do this get injured.
The whole idea of dropping weights at the gym needs to be changed. After all, if you’re strong enough to do sets with a particular weight, you should be strong enough to set the weight down without dropping it.
The exceptions would be a one-rep max deadlift and farmer walks with the heaviest dumbbells possible, but almost always, the dropping appears to be done electively rather than from the inability to handle the weight.
Injuries from Dropped Weights at the Gym
Dropped weights at the gym cause far more injuries than you think, says a new study carried out by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
The study tracked weight training injuries between 1990 and 2007: over 970,000 overall ER cases in the U.S. during that time.
The most common way that injury occurred in the gym was from weights dropping on someone: 65 percent of the reported injuries.
Overall, 90 percent of the injuries occurred with free weights (which explains why so many injuries were from dropped weights). I’m a certified personal trainer, and I’m not surprised that 65 percent of the injuries were due to dropped weights.
I see men carelessly dropping dumbbells and plates to the floor all the time – but a lot of times, it’s the plates that are being dropped — sometimes tossed to the floor or carelessly dropped vertically into slots.
And when men do this, occasionally they miss. But I’ve never witnessed an accident.
As for dropping or “throwing” dumbbells to the floor after chest presses, the user isn’t at risk for a dropped-weight injury; someone nearby is — their feet.
However, I do not know if this specific mechanism of insult was reported in the study. “Dropped weights” can mean different scenarios.
It can mean a dropped barbell on someone’s chest. It can mean a dropped dumbbell on someone’s foot after he doesn’t quite place it in the rack.
Plates can slide off crooked barbells and easily land on someone’s foot.
The age bracket in which the highest proportion of injuries from dropped weights occurred, was12 years and younger. Kids are dropping weights left and right, apparently.
What about mishaps from resistance machines?
What age group had the most injuries from machines? People 55 and over. This isn’t surprising because these machines attract the older crowd more than the younger crowd.
Also, whenever I see someone incorrectly using a machine, it’s almost always an older man – particularly the preacher curl machine. What is it with men 50-plus and the preacher curl machine?
Ever see an old-timer use this machine? Cheat City, USA – which translates to injury risk. The lat pull-down is another machine that older men improperly use, putting themselves at risk for back and rotator cuff injury.
“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 their age and capabilities,” explains study author Dawn Comstock, PhD.
This report may make it sound as though pumping iron is a dangerous pursuit, but lifting actually ranks relatively low as far as injuries, when compared to other physical activities.
Weights being dropped is something that’s within people’s control, far more preventable than, say, a sprained ankle while playing basketball.
Also keep in mind that the report included children. Kids should not handle strength training equipment without supervision, and I wonder how many of these injured kids were not supervised.
So with all of that said, it would be a smart move to work on limiting how often you let the weights drop during your gym workouts.