Lifting weights helps strengthen the bones and muscles and can also improve the overall appearance of the body. The bad news is, regular weightlifting can increase your risk of developing stretch marks. These appear on the skin as long pink or reddish streaks, and they are known medically as striae.
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Adolescents and pregnant women are commonly affected with stretch marks because of fast weight gain. Whenever you gain weight quickly, your skin does not have time to adapt, and a substance called collagen does not get produced normally. This in turn causes scars to develop which appear as stretch marks. Weightlifting can have the same effect on the body as pregnancy or puberty. By gaining a lot of muscle in a short amount of time, your skin does not have time to adjust. The main areas affected by stretch marks are the shoulders, arms and chest.
Steroids are known as performance enhancing drugs or ergogenic aids. Often times bodybuilders and recreational weightlifters use them to gain more size and strength. Chronic use of oral or systemic steroids is a cause for stretch marks. Being that they cause you to gain muscle mass quickly, you double your chances of developing stretch marks when you use them. Additionally, steroids are illegal and they come with a number of side effects such as decreased sex drive, reduced sperm count, baldness and liver disease.
When it comes to treatment for stretch marks, there is no shortage of creams, oils, ointments and salves on the market. Unfortunately, none of these products penetrate the skin deep enough to do any good. One of the most promising treatments is laser therapy. This treatment helps reduce the color of stretch marks and gives the skin a smoother texture. However, nothing is effective at removing stretch marks completely.
Preventing Stretch Marks
When you lift weights, there are several things you can do to prevent stretch marks. First of all, avoid the use of steroids. This can not only prevent stretch marks, but it can also prevent all the other negative side effects they cause. Instead of lifting maximal weights, aim for a moderate resistance that you can lift in the 10- to 12-rep range. Instead of just doing weightlifting all the time, add cardio into your workouts. This will help keep your weight down. From a dietary standpoint, eat enough food to fuel your workouts, but do not go overboard. Fast weight gain overall contributes to stretch marks.