Is weight lifting harming your spine?

A popular training technique, the squat lift, may be putting undue stress on your spine, according to research presented to the North American Spine Society.

Trainers and coaches have long blamed spinal fractures on incorrect lifting form. But even athletes with "textbook form" could be harming their spines.

Researchers recruited twenty male athletes in their 20s and took several x-rays of them in various positions. They noticed that the sacrum- the part of your spine connecting your hip bones- sloped to an unhealthy degree when an athlete performed a back or front squat. This unnatural slope makes athletes highly susceptible to spinal fractures or damage. The risk is especially high for teenagers or young people whose spines are still maturing.

Although they haven't yet gone so far as to recommend that athletes stop doing the squat lift, doctors did recommend that athletes be extremely cautious when performing the activity. Despite the fact that the squat lift is effective in building muscle, it can lead to a lifetime of low-back pain and degenerative disc problems. Many chiropractors and physical therapists specialize in sports medicine and can help advise you on safe-lifting techniques.

Fauber, John. "Training Technique Stresses Athletes' Spines." Medpage Today. November 2, 2011. Accessed November 16, 2011

McClellan John, et al. "The effects of two different types of squat exercises on radiography of the lumbar spine". North American Spine Society. November 2011.