14 Lifting Injury Statistics (Bodybuilding and Weights)

Injuries happen in every aspect of life and even more so when you are lifting heavy weights. Are injury rates higher amongst athletes, or are they lower?

Top lifting heavy objects injuries

  1. Between 1990 and 2007, it’s estimated that close to one million injuries caused by weightlifting attended emergency rooms.
  2. During the same period of time, annual workplace injuries increased by a whopping 48%
  3. Males comprise 82% of all workplace injuries.
  4. The most common types of heavy lifting injuries are by dropping weights, crushing injuries, and injuries related to equipment failure.
  5. A whopping 90% of injuries can be blamed on free weights as opposed to machine or “cable” weight.
  6. Roughly 14% of users reported their injuries were dier to loss of balance, strained muscles, and overtraining.
  7. Lifting weights was the cause of 114 deaths between 1990 and 2007.
  8. 98% of people with workplace injuries do not require hospitalization.

Back Injury Statistics

Lifting injuries occur across a wide range of industries and professions but particularly in roles that require heavy lifting, such as warehouseman or an emergency service worker. The vast majority of these injuries are due to poor lifting technique and not performing as correct warm-up. Most lifting injuries occur at the gym or in the workplace, with 95% of people recovering within 6 months.

1. More than 1 million back injuries in the USA every year

Across the US, more than 1 million back injuries occur every year, showing just how important it is that people improve their functional fitness and movement. Most of these injuries are preventable and could save both employee and employer a lot of time, money, and grief. (1)

2. Poor posture is the cause of 92% of all workplace injuries

The vast majority of jobs these days involve sitting at a desk for 8 hours. This can play havoc with your core muscles and lead to poor posture resulting in lower back injuries and shoulder injuries.

3. Lower back injuries are one of the leading causes of disability

Many of these types of injuries are caused by incorrect form and technique when lifting heavy objects. Most people bend at the hips for heavy lifting instead of bending at the knees and keeping their backs straight. Injury prevention is the best way to stay out of the hospital.

4. 95% of people recover within 6 months of injury, while only 5% develop debilitating health conditions

The good thing, though, is at least 95% of people recover from these acute injuries within a few months. Seeking the advice of a qualified physiotherapist or strength and conditioning coach goes a long way in helping improve your physical fitness and prevent injury. Regular daily exercise focusing on resistance and aerobic training should be prioritized, as should performing dynamic and static stretches before and after working out.

5. There are 1 million workers’ compensation claims annually caused by lower back injuries

This staggering number of workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims just goes to show how many people are affected by physical injuries annually. Labor statistics are some of the most reliable, so these statistics can be trusted and verified.

6. One out of every five injuries in the US is due to back conditions

Although there are many types of workplace injuries, such as elbow injuries and knee injuries, one out of every five people injured have back injuries. This staggering number,

7. Back injuries cost US companies $225 billion annually

Healthcare and insurance companies across the continental US shell out a whopping $225 billion every year. (2) (3)

Weightlifting Injury & Statistics

It’s not surprising that a vast amount of lifting injuries occur while weight training and lifting heavy objects. The most common areas of the body injured are the knees, lower back and shoulder joints. As with workplace injuries, no warm-up coupled together with poor lifting technique is the main culprit when it comes to back injuries.

Gym-goers are advised to warm up before lifting heavy objects and spend 15 minutes after each session cooling down and stretching.

1. 1000 hours of deliberate training and practice results in a 33% more likelihood of developing lifting injuries

Training is often equated to improved physical fitness and mental performance, and while that’s true, there is such a thing as “overtraining.” When undertaking any physical fitness program, it’s imperative that people focus much of their attention on stretching and other recovery protocols designed to help with injury prevention. (4)

2. Shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, knee injuries occur, and back injuries are the most common (68%)

These numbers are not surprising considering how much time we spend sitting in our chairs. Back injuries and shoulder injury particular Injury can occur when heavy lifting takes place, especially after sitting for long periods. Lifting-related injuries also are due to poor technique as most people bend at the hips, not at the knees.

3. Strains and tendonitis make up 69% of lifting injuries

Tendonitis usually comes about as a result of poor form over a long period of time. The repetitive nature of many lifting exercises makes many athletes prone to overuse injuries like tendonitis. (5)

4. Recurring injuries occur 30% of the time compared to acute 59%

Acute injuries, particularly in the sporting environment, tend to lead to long-term, more “severe” health conditions and can weaken already “imbalanced” muscles. This is the main reason acute injuries are more prevalent among the athletic community. (6)

5. Close to 75% of all back injuries are strains

It’s no wonder that the vast majority of back injuries are sprains, especially considering how long we spend lounging around on the sofa watching TV. The technological age has many benefits, but improved health is not one of them. As you can see from this stat, back injuries are common types of lifting injuries that occur when people are not warmed up correctly and try to perform heavy lifting.

6. In weightlifting, tendinitis makes up 85% of all knees injuries

Squats and deadlifts place an incredible amount of stress on the knee joints, and if coupled with poor form, then tendonitis is a “given.” Again, weightlifters must pay more attention to their stretching and recovery protocols.

7. Shoulder injuries account for more than half of all strains

The shoulder joint is complex, to say the least, so it’s easy to see why most strains occur in the shoulder. To combat shoulder injury, I suggest standing at regular times throughout the day and performing basic dynamic stretching such as arm circles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of injuries are caused by lifting?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, report that 35% of American workers’ compensation claims are due to poor form, overexertion, and shoulder and back injuries. (7)

What is the most common injury in weightlifting?

According to labor statistics above, the vast majority of weightlifting injuries are muscle pulls and strains, particularly in the shoulder, back, and knees.

How many injuries happen a year from poor lifting?

According to the statistics from the Health and Safety Executive Department, over 33% of all workplace and lifting injuries are caused because of poor form and or insufficient muscle strength. Poor form and technique can lead to reoccurring injuries in the shoulders, back, knee, and elbow. (8)

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Occupational injuries in health care: Injury rates and causes

Aasa U, Svartholm I, Andersson F, et al Injuries among weightlifters and powerlifters: a systematic review British Journal of Sports Medicine 2017;51:211-219. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/4/211

Weight-Lifting Injuries on the Rise

Gray, S. E., & Finch, C. F. (2015). The causes of injuries sustained at fitness facilities presenting to Victorian emergency departments – identifying the main culprits. Injury epidemiology, 2(1), 6. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40621-015-0037-4




Brenton Barker

Brenton Barker | Writer

Brenton is a highly qualified sports coach with over 20 years of experience working with professional athletes. With a degree in sports coaching and experience in prominent positions, including Head Advisor to the Japanese Government Sports Institute and Manager & Head Coach to Australia's Governing Sporting Body. Currently, he consults with several professional athletes and sporting organizations, sharing his expertise to help them reach their full potential.

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