Preventing Spinal Injuries: Keys to a Safe and Effective Workout

woman performing dumbell exercises

Injuries to the spine during intense workouts have become increasingly common, and at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics, we are witnessing this trend firsthand. However, the majority of spinal injuries can be treated without surgery, and athletes can utilize their injuries as an opportunity for education and growth.


Prevent Injury When Working Out 

To ensure safety during intense workout programs, it's crucial to assess your flexibility and form before diving in. Utilizing a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) can help identify potential trouble spots and weaknesses that could sideline even the fittest athlete.

Some popular fitness trends, such as boot camp-style workouts and programs incorporating Olympic lifts, kettlebells, plyometrics, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), can build muscle quickly when performed correctly and with proper training. However, the key to injury prevention lies in implementing a solid defense strategy. Here are the essential keys to protect yourself against workout-related injuries:


Athletes in their thirties and forties are the first to complain about the loss of flexibility. There is no doubt this occurs. Stiffening joints and tightening of the soft tissues are pains we will all experience. Sedentary lifestyles only compound the problem.

Unfortunately, the stiffest areas tend to be in the low back and the backs of the hips, thighs and calves, which are the main muscles that give us the power needed for lifting a barbell from the ground or doing a squat. Most of the power for these exercises comes from engaging the gluteal muscles (which make up the buttocks and the backs of the hips) and lack of flexibility here can cause a real problem. Athletes with poorflexibility will compensate with over-reliance on other parts of the body and the spine is the usual victim.

Incorporating stretching of trouble areas, especially AFTER your workout, is the key to staying healthy enough to knock your next workout out of the park.


Maintaining proper form throughout the entire range of motion in an exercise is critical. Athletes often pay attention to form during the essential parts of a lifting exercise but neglect proper form during the initiation or completion of the lift. It could be as simple as lifting a dumbbell or kettlebell off the rack or as complex as maintaining the integrity of the shoulder girdle during an overhead snatch.

Proper form for all complex body movement exercises, including Olympic lifting, relies on engaging the core muscles and sustaining that engagement throughout the exercise.


The core muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing the trunk or thorax during any movement. They include the transverse abdominis, diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles, gluteal muscles, and low back muscles. Learning how to engage and activate these muscles is essential for weightlifting and maintaining proper form.

Improving flexibility, mastering proper form, training the core, and undergoing a sophisticated functional movement screen (FMS) all require dedication and time.

At MPower Physical Therapy, our highly specialized personal trainers work closely with the physical therapists at both MPower and Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopaedic Center. They provide expert assessments and exercise plans to elevate your fitness level and empower you to safely achieve your goals, whether you're an occasional exerciser or a seasoned athlete. Our shared goal at MPower and Elite is to equip you with the skills and training necessary to set personal records safely and enjoy the journey.

Schedule an Appointment With an Orthopedic Surgeon Near You

If you're experiencing persistent pain or have suffered a workout-related injury, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon in Franklin, TN, or Nashville, TN. Book an appointment at the location nearest to you and receive specialized orthopedic care for optimal recovery and performance.


Dr. R. Christopher Glattes

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