During my lifting journey, I’ve encountered a few surprises and realizations. One of the biggest surprises was finding stretch marks on the front of my shoulders.
After some research, I found out this is a common occurrence in lifters. Are these stretch marks a cause for concern? Is there something wrong with your health or nutrition if you have stretch marks from weightlifting?
No, stretch marks are not considered unhealthy. If you are developing stretch marks from weightlifting, this means that you are gaining weight at a rapid pace, which is often the goal of lifting. Stretch marks are extremely common and should not be a cause for concern.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks develop when our skin stretches beyond its normal levels, usually due to weight gain. Some people are more prone to stretch marks than others. Genetics and Gender also play a role.
Stretch marks are most commonly found on the abdomen, thighs, breasts, hips, buttocks, and flank.
Females often develop stretch marks during the third trimester of pregnancy. Others may develop stretch marks during rapid periods of growth ignited by puberty. For some, a rapid increase in weight from weightlifting can cause stretch marks.
As the muscles grow, the skin is unable to grow at the same rate, causing stretch marks.
Do Stretch Marks Heal?
Stretch marks naturally fade over time but they may never fully go away, similar to a scar. They are red and pronounced at first, and over time they slowly fade.
Stretch Marks are caused by a stretching of the skin under the surface of our normal skin. This shows the lower layer of fat rather than the normal top layer of the skin, causing discoloration.
While there are many different treatments available, there aren’t any that have proven to be fully effective yet.
A study on 22 participants found that using Tretinoin reduced the length and width of stretch marks. Tretinoin works by speeding up the life cycle of our skin cells, causing the stretch mark to heal faster.
Are Stretch Marks Unhealthy
Stretch marks do not directly pose any major health risks. They are a purely aesthetic issue. They may be a sign or wake-up call to those who are gaining too much weight too quickly. Stretch marks could be a cause for negative self-image or anxiety in some individuals.
For weightlifters, this situation is tricky. If they are negatively affected by stretch marks, the best solution would be to slow down on the weightlifting and aggressive weight-gain diets.
If the individual wishes to continue, they should be wary that it is possible their stretch marks will continue to worsen with increased growth from weightlifting.
How Can I Prevent Stretch Marks From Weighlifting
While some products may attempt to sell you on their solution, there is no proven way to fully avoid stretch marks from weightlifting, other than abstaining from lifting. There may be ways to reduce the amount or severity of stretch marks.
Weightlifters often experience stretch mark formation during the bulking period of their workout cycle. This is when weight-lifters eat for a caloric surplus in order to gain weight and muscle.
If you wish to avoid stretch marks, it may be best to seek high protein and low-fat diets in order to reduce fat gain vs. muscle gain. Check out this article on protein vs. fat in ground turkey and ground beef to learn more.
Stretch marks are largely unavoidable, and the treatments available aren’t exactly perfect. Weightlifters have the choice of either slowing down their weight gain or accepting that stretch marks are just part of the process.
I like to consider stretch marks as a mark of a job well done, instead of letting them hurt my self-image.