Are lifting straps helping you or setting you up for an injury?

by Ryan Wagner

Do you use lifting straps or have you seen guys or girls in the gym using them for their deadlifts? Are lifting straps safe? Here’s the rationale: since the grip is usually the first thing to go in a heavy deadlift, these straps are intended to augment your grip strength, thereby setting you up for higher poundage.

But they may be doing you more harm than good. Aside from helping you to move more weight, there is an increased risk of injury.

Here’s the problem: when you grab hold of something heavy, perhaps too heavy, your nervous system senses the looming danger and your grip starts to give way. In other words, what you’re trying to lift is so heavy that you can’t hang on to it.┬áThis is your body’s way of saying, “let go, this is too heavy, something’s going to break!”

A lifting strap overrides your body’s natural defense mechanism of letting go. This increases your risk of getting injured (e.g. a torn bicep). Are straps inherently bad? Not at all. But I think that they only make sense if you’re a competing power lifter and/or you’re aware of the risks.

A better alternative: take your time and train that grip strength. Strengthen your grip naturally with farmer carries and don’t chase numbers on a white board.

Something else you can try is to experiment with the hook grip. If you’ve never lifted with it before, it’s probably going to feel really awkward. But it really does help to lock up your grip on the bar, and in a safer way than using straps.

Remember, lifting weights is all about risk versus reward. Stop chasing numbers on a white board and listen to your body. Stay safe and lift smart.

Something that I’m always advocating for here at Motus is to play the long game — to focus on sustainable fitness; movement that lasts for decades and helps you to stay injury free.

So, are lifting straps safe? Well, it depends on your goals and how you approach the risk versus reward concept.

Are lifting straps helping you or setting you up for an injury? by