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Sexes differ in training plans

October 21, 2002|Jane E. Allen | Times Staff Writer

Male and female weight lifters appear to take different approaches to preventing injuries, a new study indicates, although both sexes report that the more years they've been lifting, the more injuries they've sustained.

Men responding to the online survey from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons were almost twice as likely as women to use a spotter, and nearly five times more likely to use a weight belt.

Women led the way in getting trained in proper equipment use, and they were more than twice as likely to follow a professional weight-training program.

"It's almost a predictable difference for men and women," said Dr. Noah Finkel, a sports medicine specialist at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y. "Women will have someone show them how to do it ... whereas men will dive into it."

He also said their style of training is quite different: "Most women will use light weight and do an exercise more times. Most men will do it fewer times and do a heavier weight."

Men and women also got their safety information from different sources. Women tended to rely on a personal trainer or health club employee, whereas men were more likely to heed friends or read about safety in books, magazines or on the Web.

Weight lifting led to more than 197,000 injuries in 2000 that required treatment at a doctor's office, clinic or emergency room, according to the U.S. Product Safety Commission. The cost in lost wages, medical bills, pain, suffering and legal liability exceeded $2.8 billion.

Most of the 410 people who completed the survey trained or lifted weights three times a week, with men tending to devote an hour and women a half-hour to a session.

Of reported injuries, 79% involved inflammation, 58% muscle sprain or strain and 24% tendinitis. The most vulnerable injury site was the shoulder, followed by the lower back.

Results of the survey, conducted in July and August, were released Wednesday.

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