Neurologist explains why he quit powerlifting after learning of its life-wrecking effects

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Dr Sergej Stjepic, a neurologist in Illinois, said powerlifting is bad for your spine
  • He said he would also never have played soccer or done drugs or alcohol
  • READ MORE: Women need two more hours of sleep than men every night

A neurologist has explained why he regrets powerlifting after he learned about the potential life-wrecking effects.

Dr Sergej Stjepic, a neurologist in Chicago, Illinois, revealed on TikTok three things he would never do, knowing what he knows now about health.

‘I wouldn’t have powerlifted so much,’ he said. ‘For example, squatting very heavy weights.’

Powerlifting describes using a barbell while squatting, bench pressing or deadlifting. 

It involves lifting a certain amount of weight in one go, rather than repeated exercises. 

But it is harmful because it can ‘decrease your overall disc height in your spine,’ he said.

When height in your spinal discs is lost, pinched nerves, bone and joint inflammation and pain can occur.

The degeneration of discs in the spine can cause a loss of space between joints, which causes sensations similar to arthritis pain. In some severe cases, pain may be constant. 

‘Decreasing the disc heights causes bone on bone friction and can sometimes cause what’s called neural foraminal narrowing as well as central canal narrowing,’ he explained in the video.

This, he explained, can cause you to develop pinching on the nerves that travel through your spine, causing extreme pain.

Neural foraminal narrowing is the narrowing of the small openings between the vertebra in the spine which nerve roots pass through.

It does not always lead to symptoms, but if a nerve gets stuck in the gap, it will be painful. 

A neurologist said he regrets powerlifting after he learned about the potential life-wrecking effects

The Cleveland Clinic likened it to ‘what happens to an electrical cord when you shut a door on it, wedging it between the door and frame.’

It said: ‘Eventually, the pressure on the cord can damage it, affecting how it conducts electricity. 

‘Likewise, [neural foraminal narrowing] can put pressure on affected nerves. Eventually, that can affect signals travelling through the nerve and cause nerve pain, and sometimes, permanent nerve damage.’

‘Powerlifting is really bad for your spine in the end,’ Dr Stjepic said.

Pinched nerves occur when there is too much pressure on a nerve by surrounding bones or muscles.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the pressure can cause pain, tingling, numbness or weakness.

Dr Stjepic said he would also not have played soccer.

‘I definitely wouldn’t have played football in college. I probably wouldn’t have played football at all. My kids definitely won’t,’ he said.

‘There’s this thing called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, they’re finding it in 18 year old kids… we don’t know why it happens other than repeated hits.’

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain disorder likely caused by repeated head injuries.

It causes the death of nerve cells in the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

‘I wouldn’t do any kind of alcohol or drugs, especially if I was younger, below the age of 20.

‘Your frontal lobe keeps developing up until the age of 25, but even more important than that is the gross amount of development your brain undergoes from zero to 25.’

He added: ‘People who were to develop schizophrenia in the future, who were genetically more likely to, if they do marijuana, they tend to have their schizophrenic breaks a lot sooner than they would have had them.

‘It just messes with your development.’

A wealth of research links marijuana use to schizophrenia later in life.

Most recently, researchers backed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated 30 percent of schizophrenia cases in American men aged 21 to 30 are linked to cannabis addiction.


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