Injury during bodybuilding

Synonyms in a broader sense

weight training, strength training, weightlifting, body fitness, fitness, power lifting


This topic is aimed at all athletes who use weights to build muscle. Accident-related injuries are rare in bodybuilding. The main focus is on injuries to muscles and tendons caused by incorrect or excessive strain.

Possible injuries of the arms (upper extremity)

The upper extremity (arms/arm muscles) is particularly frequently affected by injuries. The shoulder as well as the elbow joint and wrist are affected by injuries. In the shoulder joint area, rotator cuff complaints predominate.

The supraspinatus tendon, which is often 50% stronger in bodybuilders than in the general population, is of particular interest for muscle and tendon disorders of the shoulder. The supraspinatus muscle rests on the upper part of the shoulder blade and moves under the acromion to the head of humerus, where it starts with its tendonous end. The function of the supraspinatus muscle is to raise the arm sideways, especially during the starting phase when the hands are still resting on the lateral thigh.

Overloading of the tendon attachment during training can lead to chronic inflammation (supraspinatus tendinitis/tendinosis). A typical exercise for this is the lateral lifting (abduction) of the stretched arm with a dumbbell or a rope pull. Other exercises, which mainly require an external rotational movement of the arm, can also lead to tendon attachment disease of the posterior portions of the rotator cuffs (Musculus infraspinatus, Musculus teres minor).

Impingement syndrome

The growth of the supraspinatus muscle can also lead to a narrowing of the acromion (subacromial space). When the arm is lifted, the supraspinatus can therefore bump under the acromion (impingement syndrome) and, if repeated frequently, lead to inflammation of the bursa, which is also located there (subacromial busitis). An unbalanced shoulder musculature with a predominance of the deltoid muscle can further support this effect, because the “deltoid” tends to pull the upper arm upwards and additionally reduces the acromion.

In the worst case, chronic supraspinatus tendon irritation can develop into a rotator cuff tear. In a similar form, this plays a role in instability impingement. In this case, the head of humerus tends to be repeatedly pressed forward against the anterior joint capsule, causing the capsule to expand and an unnoticed anterior shoulder instability to develop.

As a result of this instability, the head of humerus can increasingly slide and lead to entrapment in the acromion. Exercises that promote instability impingement are neck pressing behind the head, latissimus pulling into the neck, covers and so-called flying (a chest muscle training in which the athlete lies on his back and moves his arms up and down stretched out). The pain in impingement syndrome is in the area of the lateral shoulder and often radiates into the lateral upper arm.

In the area of the acromioclavicular joint, overstrain-induced irritation occurs. The point of pain is located in the area of the lateral/upper shoulder. The joint is particularly stressed when the arm is lifted sideways to the end, when the upper arm almost touches the ears.

It is also particularly painful when the arm is moved horizontally to the opposite side. Here too, the joint is put under particular strain and pain is provoked. Chronic overloading of this joint can result in premature arthrosis or bone dissolution (osteolysis) of the lateral collarbone end.

These complaints are caused in particular by classical bench pressing. In advanced cases, the lateral collarbone end must be surgically removed. Torn tendon or torn muscle are relatively rare events and are due to degenerative pre-damage of the tendon or extreme overloading of the muscle.

In the shoulder region, a rupture of the long biceps tendon (Musculus biceps, Caput longum) may occur. In this case, the long biceps tendon in the shoulder joint tears off and the muscle belly of the biceps muscle slips off on the front side of the upper arm in the direction of the elbow. A sudden pain in the shoulder occurs and when the biceps muscle is tensed, the muscle belly that has slipped down becomes visible on the upper arm.The muscle power of the “bicep” is largely preserved by the function of its second origin (short head) on the coracoid.