You might not really think about it, but your shoulders, knees, ankles, and other joints allow you to move around and live life as a physically active person. Your joints also take on a tremendous workload, which means they’re vulnerable to being overworked and damaged.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the number of people around the country reporting severe joint pain is almost 15 million. When you think about how much of an impact this can have on the health care system as well as in context of absent days from work, the scenario becomes quite serious.
At Next Step Orthopedics, we see lots of bursitis, arthritis, and tendinitis related to heavy exercise. The repetitive motion of countless reps puts weightlifters at risk for joint problems. In the spirit of looking after your joint health when you train, below are some simple tips to follow to protect your joints, whatever your level of expertise.
Is your weightlifting routine damaging your joints?
If you engage in heavy exercise, bodybuilding, and weightlifting, the health of your joints should be a priority. Of course, lifting weights has plenty of benefits, but preventing long-term joint damage is critical to your quality of life — both inside and outside the gym.
Any kind of resistance training or weightlifting performed improperly can have an impact on the health of your joints, and it’s not uncommon for people to continue to train through the pain. If you have pain and discomfort, it’s not a good idea to continue training. Get help for your joint pain.
Stretching and warming up is a must
Some people prefer to hit the gym cold and get into the heaviest weights possible, but this isn’t a good thing for your joints. Always make time to stretch for at least five minutes. Ideally, you should be doing a 10-minute dynamic stretching routine to ensure that your joints are lubricated and that your muscles are ready for action.
It’s also important to do a little light exercise after stretching to make sure you’re warmed up. You can hit the treadmill, jog in place, or get on a stationary bike for a few minutes. The important thing is that you get your blood circulating.
It’s not all about heavy workouts
You might be tempted to lift the heaviest possible weights and punish your body, hoping for massive gains. The problem is that this can cause injury and damage your joints. In fact, many people who engage in this find that they are often away from the gym more than they’d like because they are in some pain and discomfort.
The best way to work out is to be smart about it. Mix up your weight training routine so you give your body, and especially your joints, time to recover. This means alternating between low-repetition workouts with heavier weights and high-repetition workouts with lighter weights.
The truth is that if you stick to the right training routine and give your body a chance to recover by alternating your workouts and not overtraining during the week, you still get the gains you want. The difference is that you’re taking steps to protect your joints from damage.
Form is everything
Have you been tempted at times to add a little more weight to the bar because you want to maximize your gains? The problem is that adding too much weight can seriously impact your form when you lift — which, in turn, stresses your joints. If you find that you’re struggling to lift and your posture and form are collapsing, it’s time to take a step back and adjust your weight load.
There is an optimum method for lifting every bar and doing every type of exercise. If you’re straying from these tried and true forms, you’re more likely to injure yourself and damage your joints because you’re putting excessive pressure on them.
Cooling down is for everyone
Even the professionals take the time to cool down. The simplest way to do this is to repeat your warm-up routine at the end of your workout as a cool-down. This helps your body to recover and prepares you for the next session.
Weight training is excellent for your body, but it’s vital to your joints and muscles to ensure you do it properly. If you’re experiencing joint pain and discomfort, call us at (972) 547-0047 or book an appointment online.