Strength training plays an important part in your health and fitness, but you may be concerned about injury or painful joints. By concentrating on proper technique, you can tone your muscles, enhance your posture, and actually reduce discomfort and stiffness in your joints.
Moving around and building up strength in supporting muscles slows down the wear and tear that occurs in your joints over time. A sound exercise program may even enable you to avoid steroid injections, pain medications, or even joint replacement surgery.
Try these guidelines for protecting your joints and staying safe while lifting weights.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Start each workout with gentle movements that raise your body temperature. March in place or lunge to each side. Cool down with relaxing movements and stretches for your whole body as your heart rate slows down.
Watch Your Form
Keys to good form include moving your arms and legs through a full range of motion, not locking out your knees or elbows, keeping your back straight, and holding your shoulders down. These things allow you to avoid putting too much pressure on your joints.
Vary Your Program
Repetitive motions and imbalances are most often what strain your joints. Don’t work one body part too often and use a variety of exercises to work a single muscle group. Also, get help designing a program that covers all your muscle groups so your front and back become equally developed.
Strength training causes tiny, but harmless, tears in your tissues. Your muscles actually grow when those tears repair, but usually requires a break of 24-48 hours. Each of us takes different amounts of time for recovery and some need to help their body more in the process depending on their genetic make up. Learn more about YOUR DNA and recovery on our genetic testing webpage.
Consume adequate nutrients
Your muscles and joints need nutrients to repair and grow. This may mean just getting enough protein to build the strength you desire, or dialing in specific anti inflammatory foods to address joint discomfort. There is no one size fits all “strength training diet” because we are all so genetically different. Reach out to our Health Coach if you are interested in finding your nutritional genetic blue print.
Focus on your Breath
Holding your breath can raise your blood pressure or even lead to fainting. Instead, exhale while you exert force, and inhale on the less strenuous portion of the exercise. Practice this outside of your exercise sessions and it will become easier to implement during your workout.
Choose good footwear
Shoes are the base on which the rest of your body moves. You need good support and tractions while you’re balancing extra weight. Try on a variety of mid-cut sports shoes to find a style you like.
Weight lifting gloves can help protect the joints in your hands, wrist, and elbow by improving your grip. This will keep you from over gripping with your hands and straining your forearm. Gloves will also help prevent blisters from forming on your hands if you are lifting heavy weights.
Consider weight alternatives
Of course, there is more to strength training than traditional weights. When you’re short on space or equipment, try resistance bands or moves that use your own body weight like chin ups and push ups. These alternatives often lessen the impact on your joints and are safer for beginners.
Talk with an expert
Consulting your physical therapist is especially important if you haven’t exercised in awhile or have experienced joint or back pain. They can work with you on a program based on your individual history and current goals. If you have a clear medical history and no aches or pain, you may be better suited to work with a Certified Exercise Physiologist to set out a safe plan to reach your goals.
Taking sensible precautions will protect your joints from injuries that could interrupt your workouts. A consistent strength training program can help you build strong bones and muscle, lose body fat, and perform your daily activities with greater ease.
If you are wondering what the best exercise may be for your body or how to avoid the reoccurrence of a previous injury, reach out to one of Doctors of Physical Therapy to help you decide what precautions you may need to take when moving forward with strength training. Click HERE to talk with an expert.
Call the office at 901-316-5456 if you would like to set up a FREE consult with a Certified Exercise Physiologist.