strengthen your joints

Many people are under the impression that weight training leads to joint pain and discomfort, but research suggests the opposite.

When done correctly, strength training can improve the integrity of various tissues in the body, making them more resilient and better able to handle physical stress.

Let’s discuss what that means for you.

The Adaptive Process That Occurs As a Result of Strength Training

The stimulus-recovery-adaptation (SRA) concept refers to the fact that muscle and strength gain are by-products of physical stimuli. 

In the context of weight training, lifting provides the stimulus, nutrition and sleep promotes recovery, and adaptation refers to the progress you make: muscle growth, strength gain, superior athleticism, etc.

So long as your workouts become increasingly challenging to disrupt homeostasis and you recover well, you will make progress specific to the type of training you do. For instance, high-repetition training with lighter weights will develop superior muscular endurance, whereas those utilizing heavy weights will get stronger.

Interestingly, your muscles aren’t the only type of tissue that adapts in response to weight training. Your bones, connective tissues, and joints possess the same qualities that allow them to get stronger in response to weight training. The objective is for these tissues to be resilient enough to handle the same physical stress better in the future.

For instance, research finds that resistance training improves bone mineral density. The results are strong bones, greater fracture resistance, and a lower risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.

How to Strengthen Your Joints With Weight Training

Fortunately, strengthening your joints doesn’t require a unique approach. You must follow the same best practices:

  • Do various exercises for all major muscle groups
  • Train in several repetition ranges, utilizing lighter and heavier loads
  • Push yourself hard enough but leave a rep or two in the tank most of the time
  • Train all major muscle groups one to three times per week
  • Warm up well before working out (light cardio, dynamic stretching, warm-up sets, etc.)
  • Lift weights you can control
  • Perform each repetition with proper technique, feeling the correct muscles activating

Okay, But Why Do My Joints Hurt When I Lift Weights?

Some people can experience joint pain when lifting weights, but that typically occurs for one of three reasons:

Reason 1: You’re Lifting More Than You Should

You can experience pain when training because you’re subjecting your body to more stress than it can handle. 

For example, your true strength might allow you to bench press 100 kilograms with proper form. If you constantly load more weight, your joints, ligaments, and tendons must handle more stress, leading to structural damage and pain.

Reason 2: You’re Training With Poor Form

Another reason for pain during strength training could be poor technique. Not performing exercises correctly can lead to more stress on your joints and connective tissues, resulting in pain.

Reason 3: You’re Not Warming Up Well

The third reason you might experience joint aches is that you’re not warming up well before starting. A good warm-up is necessary for preparing your body for physical stress. 

A combination of light cardio, dynamic stretching, and warm-up sets (where you gradually increase the load until you get to your working weight) prepares your muscles, mobilizes your joints, warms up the synovial fluid that lubricates all joints, and more.

September 02, 2022 — Daniel Felstein

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