How To Avoid Getting Joint Problems From Weightlifting
Getting injured sucks…
It can put you out of commission for weeks – if not months – and can really hurt your progress at the gym.
Now, there are lots of different ways that people can hurt themselves while working out.
You can pull a muscle, damage a tendon, or even drop a heavy weight on yourself if you’re not careful.
And, really, the truth is that if you lift weights for long enough you are probably going to get minor injuries from time to time.
But if there is one type of injury that you really don’t want to get it is anything related to your joints.
You see, unlike some of the other injuries that I mentioned above, joint injuries can take a long time to heal.
So, in this article, I am going to go through 4 basic things that you can do to keep you joints in good condition.
Maintain Proper Form
First things first…
When you’re in the gym, you must really focus on maintaining correct form for all of your exercises.
Yes, I know, I can be a bit of a form nazi at times (as many of my clients will attest to), but that is because I have learned the hard way…
You see, when your form is off, your risk of injury goes up considerably.
Jutting your knees out as you half squat too much weight – that’s a knee injury waiting to happen.
Flaring your elbows out when you’re benching – that’s putting major strain on your elbows and shoulder joints.
Thankfully, this is something that is completely in your control.
You can take the time to learn the proper form for each exercise, and lift an amount of weight that you can actually handle.
Or you can let your ego get in the way, and grind yourself down until you’ve developed an injury that can take a long time to heal.
For a simple primer on the importance of proper form, I would recommend checking out my article here.
Take Deload Weeks
Now I know that it can be hard to take a week off from the gym when you’re in in a good groove.
But trust me on this, you need to be taking scheduled, routine breaks – especially if you’re lifting heavy weights.
This is because your joints don’t recover at the same pace as your muscles.
So even if your muscles feel fresh after resting them for a week, that doesn’t mean that your joints have fully recovered from the cumulative strain of the heavy lifting.
And you typically won’t know – short of minor aches and pains – until you really hurt yourself one day, and wonder why you didn’t take that week off!
So, if you’re lifting heavy, you should be taking a deload week (or a week off) at least every 6-8 weeks.
For more detail about how to do this, I’d suggest reading my article on deload weeks here.
Incorporate Joint Stretches
Most people who lift weights don’t spend too much time worrying about mobility or stretching.
And I get it – there is only so much time in the day, and you want to focus on what is going to get you the results you care about.
That being said, learning a few key joint stretches and doing them a few times a week can go a long way to preventing joint issues (or relieving joint pain that you currently have).
In my opinion, one of the best resources for this is a book called The Permanent Pain Cure, written by acclaimed physiotherapist Ming Chew.
It includes all sorts of joint stretches that you’ve probably never seen before – and from personal experience I can tell you that they work extremely well, and have helped fix joint issues for both myself and my clients.
You can read our review of The Permanent Pain Cure here if you’d like.
Finally, the last thing that I would recommend doing to protect your joints is to start supplementing properly.
Now don’t get me wrong, these supplements aren’t magic, but they can still play an important role in keeping your joints healthy and injury free.
First of all, I would strongly consider taking fish oil, if you aren’t already doing so.
Fish oil has too many benefits to list – which you can read more about here – but one of them is keeping your joints in good shape.
If you’re looking for a recommendation on which fish oil to buy, check out this article where I review my top 3 picks.
Secondly, you should consider taking a glucosamine supplement as well.
While the studies on glucosamine are admittedly conflicted, from my own experience, and that of other people I’ve worked with, glucosamine can be a very effective joint supplement to take.
Typically, it is taken alongside Chondroitin and MSM, which are also known to have beneficial joint-supporting properties.
I would strongly recommend this one from Doctor’s Best, which can you pick up from Amazon here. You should take 4 capsules a day to get the recommended 1.5 grams of glucosamine.
Now none of the things I’ve mentioned above are going to insure that your joints stay in good shape.
However, if you follow some of these recommendations, the chances of you avoiding any significant joint-related injuries are much, much better.
In fact, I follow all of these myself, and have been able to avoid any debilitating joint issues for years now (knock on wood).
So take note, adopt some of these recommendations, and get back to lifting those heavy weights!