There is no better alternative than Olympic Weightlifting for athletes looking to develop raw, explosive power.

The sport itself is comprised of two lifts, the clean and jerk and the snatch, with the goal of moving the maximum amount of weight in a one-repetition maximum (1RM). While the sport itself is less mainstream, its applications for athletic training have been well received, becoming staples for many training programs.

Common Injuries – Acute

Injuries may seem plentiful within Olympic weightlifting, as the nature of the sport itself, requiring maximum loads and technical execution – seem to demand it, however, it is one of the safest sports around, with a very low incidence of serious injury. The goal of Olympic lifting is focused on the immediate generation of force, rather than the endurance that might be associated with other forms of weightlifting. This difference in training methodology, however, does not necessarily change the occurrence of acute injuries – rather, the severity of them. While instances of injury are quite low for Olympic weightlifters, if one becomes unable to support the weight in a particular situation, the outcome could be disastrous.

Most acute injuries that do occur tend to be in the shoulder region, due to the quick and rotational movement that the joint and muscles undergo to catch and brace for the weights, especially in the snatch. During this lift, the bar is gripped at a much wider setting than the clean and jerk (described previously), allowing the athlete to pull through the hips and drop under the bar for an overhead squat position. Understandably, this puts tremendous strain on the rotator cuff and labrum – which may tear or seriously strain under the catching of the weight. Similarly, the knees and lower back are just as vulnerable due to the quickness required in driving and bracing for the weight at the bottom of the lift, and subsequent drive through the squat.

Common Injuries – Chronic

As alluded to above, the explosive demands of Olympic weightlifters are especially vulnerable to chronic stress injuries, notably in the lower back, knees, hips and shoulders. Since these points all act as pivotal areas for executing the lifts, they are susceptible to the same overtraining injuries as with other sports. Rest becomes vital to recover from the constant strain placed upon ligaments and joints – it is extremely important to allow aches and pains to heal if needed, as opposed to punishing the body when it signals for healing. By being proactive, many of these chronic injuries can be avoided altogether with proper rest and care.