Blog – strength sports

Risk of injury in powerlifting

A powerlifter preparing to deadlift, as part of strength training between Cobham and Weybridge

A powerlifter preparing to deadlift, as part of strength training between Cobham and Weybridge

I was a spectator at the GBPF 2018 Men’s University Championship recently and ended up chatting about the risk of injury in powerlifting.  This conversation was sparked by noticing a few technique and posture issues with some of the lifters.  The reason I have chosen to blog about this is that I want these powerlifters to be able to enjoy their sport for a long time, to keep training and performing, to get stronger, and to stay fit, healthy, and pain free.

I like strength sports and I think they can make a very valuable contribution to the overall fitness and wellbeing of anyone, irrespective of age or gender.  They may also be accessible for people with mental or physical disabilities.

I am also a firm believer in the benefits of any form of exercise.

However, all forms of exercise carry a risk of injury and powerlifting is no exception.  Let’s take a look at the main causes of injury in powerlifting.  Future posts will look at each of these, and at how to keep the risks as small as possible.


Accidents happen…and can be costly when they happen whilst lifting.  Fortunately, a lot can be done to manage the risk of accidents in powerlifting.

Too much, too soon

For me as a sports therapist and for other similar specialists, such as personal trainers, physiotherapists, osteopaths, and chiropractors, this is a big one.  For now, I will just say that, in any sport, it is better to steadily increase the demands you place on your body.  This is particularly true if, like most people these days, you spend a lot of time sat down (for work, studies, or leisure), or if you could have old injuries that have left some sort of footprint on your body.

Technique issues

Powerlifting has the advantage that the three lifts involve standardised equipment and, to have a good lift at a competition, you have to perform the lift in a clearly specified way.  Both of these reduce the scope for technique slippage.  However, neither of these can guard against people finding a way to complete the lifts whilst using their body incorrectly.  It is quite possible that a minor technique flaw might not stop you making seemingly good progress and might not cause you pain – but eventually there will be an injury, progress will stop, or both.

Training dehydrated, sleep deprived, whilst unwell, or with inadequate nutrition

For now, I will just say that, from what is posted on various forums, it seems that some lifters don’t take these aspects seriously and might be surprised if they read some of the research.

So should you, or someone you care about, powerlift?

Absolutely!  Research has shown that it is one of the safest strength sports and that strength sports are good for us. Also, the sense of community in powerlifting is amazing and can do wonders for your general wellbeing.  Future posts will explore what you can do to keep yourself injury free and out of pain.


Amanda Lord
5th April 2018

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash