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10 health benefits of strength training and reasons why chiropractic care is the right choice for those that pump iron.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 08:41

Gone are the days when lifting weights was just for bodybuilders and pro athletes. In fact, the NHS Physical Activity Guidelines for adults recommend that all adults should do at least two full-body strength-training workouts a week.That's not because we should all aspire to bulging biceps or sexy abs — although weight-lifting can and will change the appearance of your muscles. The recommendation to strength train comes from the combination of all the benefits, from the physical to the emotional and mental.

What are the health benefits of lifting weights and the reasons why those that are into weight training would benefit from a visit to a chiropractor? 

10 Health benefits of lifting weights:

  1. Lower abdominal fat, therefore better cardiovascular health. In a 2014 study published in the research journal Obesity, Harvard researchers followed 10,500 men over the course of 12 years and found that strength training is more effective at preventing increases in abdominal fat than cardiovascular exercise. When people incorporate strength training into their exercise routine, they not only burn calories, but increase lean muscle mass, which stimulates the metabolism. Muscle mass is a major determiner of basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories the body burns per day to sustain physiologic functions. Abdominal (visceral) fat sits in and around the vital organs, including the heart. So, preventing or reducing any excess abdominal fat through strength training can certainly improve heart health. However, studies suggest that strength training also directly impacts the heart. A 2013 research in the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrates that young men who regularly strength train have better-functioning HDL, or good cholesterol, compared with those who don’t. Strength training improves blood pressure and triglyceride levels similarly to cardiovascular exercise, but it has even greater benefits on HDL. And 2015 research published in The Lancet medical journal shows that grip strength (a marker for total-body muscle health) more accurately predicts death from heart disease than blood pressure does.
  2. Reduced cancer risks. Visceral fat not only increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes, but it can also promote cancer development. Research from the journal Oncogene published in 2017 show that visceral fat cells produce high levels of a cancer-triggering protein called fibroblast growth factor-2, or FGF2. And according to 2017 research published in Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology, muscle mass is a strong predictor of cancer treatment outcomes. Muscle wasting is a common complication of cancer treatment and is associated with a higher risk of chemotherapy toxicity, faster tumour progression and lower survival rates.
  3. Controlled blood sugar levels. Strength training can help reduce your risk of diabetes, a metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar that affects 422 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization .In fact, April 2019 research in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that people with moderate levels of muscular strength had a 32% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with low levels of muscular strength. Researchers think resistance training has this effect by helping to improve body composition and sensitivity to the sugar-regulating hormone insulin.
  4. Lowered injury risks. Having a good muscle base is important for all movement, balance, coordination and injury prevention. If a muscle is too weak, it puts more stress on its connecting tendon and can result in tendonitis. Plus, strength training also increases the number and diameter of collagen fibrils in tendons to increase their strength and help prevent injury, according to a 2015 review published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.
  5. Improved flexibility and mobility. Results from a 2017 show that strength training improves flexibility in both men and women. A previous study suggests that eccentric strength exercises may provide the biggest benefit, improving hamstring flexibility twice as well as static stretching. Eccentric exercises are any that emphasize muscle lengthening, rather than shortening. Example exercises might include the lowering phase of a squat or raising the bar during a lat pull-down. However, even more important to overall function, fitness and quality of life is mobility. By taking your joints through their full range of motion during strength exercises, you can increase that range of motion over time.
  6. Osteoporosis prevention and management. Strong bodies have strong bones, with strength training significantly increasing bone mineral density. Any weight-bearing exercise in which you're standing and gravity is pulling down on your body lightly stresses and strengthens the bones and muscles. Plus, every time a muscle contracts, it pulls on the bones it's attached to, which stimulates the cells within the bone to produce structural proteins and move minerals into the bone. So, for the greatest results, prioritize standing weight-bearing, strength training moves such as squats and lunges. In a 2014 Journal of Family and Community Medicine study, just 12 weeks of strength training with squats increased lower spine and femur (thigh) bone mineral density by 2.9 and 4.9 percent, respectively.
  7. Boosted brain health. Strength training can improve brain power across a lifetime, but the effects are perhaps the strongest in older adults suffering from cognitive decline. In one 2016 study in the Journal of American Geriatrics, when men and women ages 55 through 86 with mild impairment performed twice-weekly weight training for six months, they significantly improved their scores on cognitive tests. However, when participants spent their workouts stretching, their cognitive test scores declined. The key might be getting the blood flowing, noting that high-intensity strength training increases the flow of blood, oxygen and other nutrients to the brain.
  8. Strengthened mental health. Runner's high gets a lot of hype, but strength training also improves symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety. Exercise-triggered endorphins play a role, but strength training also provides an opportunity to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment, increasing mental resiliency, according to findings from Harvard Medical School. For the greatest anti-anxiety effects, a 2014 review published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology shows that using low to moderate weights that are lighter than 70 percent of what you can lift for one rep has the greatest effects on anxiety.
  9. Elevated body image. Sure, exercise impacts body composition and physique, but research shows that consistent strength training improves body image and perceived physical appearance – no matter the actual aesthetic results. Improvements in mental health and energy levels, as well as feelings of accomplishment, are the likely catalysts for improved overall body image, according to researchers.
  10. A longer lifespan. One of strength training's many benefits include a longer life. The 2015 study in The Lancet found that grip strength accurately predicts death from any cause and, according to a 2017 Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care study, compared to body mass index or BMI, lean muscle mass better measures a person's overall health.


It is pretty clear then that weightlifting can be very good for your overall health, whether you’re a professional or just a weekend weightlifter. If you have spent any length of time lifting weights or if you listen to other people doing so in the gym talk about their weightlifting journey, then you have probably experienced injuries yourself or at least heard a few horror stories about injuries from others.


Stories involving weightlifting injuries usually begin something like: I was doing X when I felt a little twinge. I just ignored it but later….  

Do you ignore small aches and pains? Do you feel that you are expected to “push through the pain” in order to get the gain? Are you one of those “wait and see” folks who hope that pain will just go away on its own?

Sometimes, that twinge just disappears, it’s true. However, what if it doesn’t?

No one wants to stop training to nurse an injury, which is why it makes perfect sense for you to keep things in check before they become big time problems that lead to serious downtime.  Neck and spine stress, shoulder tension, back strain and knee injuries are the most common injuries weight lifters experience. Most of those injuries are due to poor lifting mechanics. Too many weight lifters and bodybuilders mask their pain with anti-inflammatories, over-the-counter pain medication, and just keep going. While that might be OK for a short period of time, you are probably doing more damage by masking the symptoms than if you were to see a chiropractor.

The benefits of Chiropractic care for weight lifting

Those that know me personally, know also that sometimes I am very honest and direct, so, let me be clear here…Chiropractic care isn’t always the answer. Sometimes resting the injured muscle and taking anti-inflammatories is the right thing to do. There are other times, unfortunately, when surgery will be required to fix a problem. Most of the time, however, you can prevent injuries and stop little problems before they turn into major issues.

  • Chiropractic can help you train smarter not harder

Every single muscle and function in your body relies on your central nervous system. When the nerves are damaged or cannot send or receive signals due to some misalignment in the body, nothing will work 100%, including your muscles. When your chiropractor adjusts your spine, they help to restore the nerves to their proper function and position. This activates the signals that cause contraction of your muscles. This will lead to an increase in muscles strength and size.  You know that training more on one side of the body than the other will result in an imbalance of the muscles. When the spine or other joints are misaligned, this can lead to an imbalance as well, causing you to work one side harder or more often than the other to keep them balanced. Weightlifting puts a fair amount of stress on the body. When reaching for a new goal, you push yourself harder to make that happen. Your chiropractor can help your body cope with the stress of exercise, so you get the maximum benefit and less soreness. Regular chiropractic care will help you train smarter, not harder. A properly aligned body is subject to fewer injuries, so you get more gain with less pain.

Consider this; ALL 32 NFL teams use chiropractors. Approximately 33% of the teams have a chiropractor on staff to treat their athletes, some even treating them on the field. The remainder refer their athletes to outside private chiropractic care. NFL players are all professional athletes who train with weights just like you do. They use chiropractors as a part of their training routine, so why shouldn’t you?

  • Preventing injuries

Perhaps one of the best reasons for making chiropractic care a part of your training program is that your chiropractor can help you avoid injuries before they occur or help stop small injuries from becoming serious ones. If your spine is in any way unbalanced, you will have improper technique, which can lead to injuries.  Regular chiropractic care helps to prevent injuries by noting changes in your body or subtle signs of pain you might not pay attention to. Your chiropractor can help you feel less pain, recover faster, and offer advice on nutritional supplements that can get you back into training quicker when injured. Always tell your chiropractor if you feel pain or discomfort in any area, but pay special attention to the following:

  • Swelling
  • Joint pain (especially in the elbow, wrist, knee or ankle)
  • Comparative weakness that happens suddenly
  • Reduced range of motion
  • A tingling feeling or numbness in any area
  • Tenderness if you touch a certain area

These signs can be subtle, but they can mean that an injury has happened.

Your chiropractor will advise you on the best treatment option and how long you might need to rest the affected area. They can also offer you advice on how to prevent this injury from occurring in the future. Regular chiropractic care can help prevent injuries, keep your spine and joints aligned while offering multiple treatment options for healing if an injury should occur.

  • Boost your performance

Many people are unaware of just how critical the spine is their game, even in bodybuilding. Time missed out due to injuries can be devastating. Did you know regular chiropractic care has been shown in studies to reduce the amount of downtime due to injuries, result in fewer strains, and less back pain for athletes? Your chiropractor could also improve your overall performance.  Ideal function is what all weightlifters and bodybuilders strive for. The goal is that each joint can complete its fullest possible range of motion so the muscle tone surrounding that joint can be built up and become stronger without restriction, pain or tightness. Dysfunction is when that doesn’t happen. Even when weightlifters have no injury and feel as if they are lifting well, chances are there is at least some dysfunction.  This imbalance will lead to compensation. If your knee hurts, you will compensate with your ankle or your hip, putting more stress on those joints than is necessary. This leads down the path to injury.

Ice, rest, and compression are the typical methods people use to help treat injuries, but why ice that ankle when the real problem is your knee? Most likely because you aren’t aware of the root cause.

A chiropractor will find and treat the root cause of your problem. By allowing you a complete range of motion and restoring balance to the spine, you will find you have improved performance.

Michael Jordan said “I didn’t know how much I could improve until I started seeing a chiropractor. Since I’ve been in chiropractic care, I’ve improved by leaps and bounds both mentally and physically.” Well, if he said so, perhaps it’s time to think of chiropractic care as a part of your overall routine?

Aaaand finally:

I am not suggesting you should rush out and start lifting the heaviest weights possible. You should seek professional advice to ensure you lift weights safely to avoid injuries. Prior to starting any new form of exercise, it is important to seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional such as your GP or chiropractor, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.  If you have specific questions about your health history and chiropractic, please reach out and I would be glad to answer any questions. If I can help, I will let you know, if I can’t I will let you know too. :-)

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 November 2020 11:39