If you want to become stronger and develop more muscle mass, you need to lift weights. The added resistance of weights forces your muscles to work overtime, allowing for bigger gains. But any form of resistance training can cause joint pain, and weightlifting is no exception. Thankfully, there are steps to protect against joint pain when lifting weights.
Allow 48 Hours to Rest and Recover
Lifting weights seven days a week limits your gains and increases your risk of injury. If you lift every day without giving your body time to recover, you may experience joint inflammation and related pain.
As explained by Bodybuilding.com, you should rest for at least 48 hours after working out. In other words, if you lift weights on Tuesday, you should wait until Thursday before lifting again. The 48- hour period allows your body to repair the microstructure-sized damage to your muscles, reducing the risk of injury the next time you lift.
Don’t Twist Your Wrists
Inexperienced bodybuilders often make the mistake of twisting their wrists when lifting weights. If you grip a weighted barbell to perform bicep curls, you may instinctively twist your wrists; thus, causing pain and tenderness. If this sounds familiar, consider using the EZ curl bar instead of a barbell.
According to HealthGuidance, performing bicep curls with a barbell forces the wrist to twist unnaturally, increasing the risk of injury. Developed by Lewis G. Dymeck, the EZ bar solves this problem by featuring a zig-zag shape to create a more natural grip.
Whether you are lifting a barbell, EZ bar, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc., be conscious of your wrist movements. You should keep your wrist as straight as possible without bending them forwards or backwards during reps.
Stretch Before Working Out
Try to get into the habit of stretching for at least five minutes before working out. Stretching places your muscles and joints through motion while encouraging blood flow and flexibility.
LiveStrong offers some helpful advice on pre-workout stretching, such as placing your arms by your sides and then swinging them in front of your body for 15 reps. The health and fitness- oriented site also recommends placing your arms on your hips and twisting clockwise for 20 reps and then counterclockwise for another 20 reps. The general idea is to warm up your muscles and supporting structures so they are less susceptible to injury.
Some fitness experts also recommend stretching after a workout. This is because lactic acid accumulates in your muscles when you lift weights. Stretching, however, improves blood circulation to flush some of this excess acid from your system.
There are also certain supplements you can take to protect against joint pain, two of which are glucosamine and chondroitin. These two substances are actually found naturally in cartilage. When taking as a supplement, however, glucosamine and chondroitin reduces joint inflammation while lowering the risk of osteoporosis.
Additionally, a fatty acid supplement can protect your joints from inflammation and pain — but only if it’s an omega 3 supplement. There are two primary types of omega fatty acids: omega 3 and omega 6, the former of which increases inflammation, while the latter decreases inflammation. Therefore, it’s recommended that you take an omega 3 supplement to reduce inflammation in your joints.
More Reps, Less Weight
Many bodybuilders who struggle with joint pain often perform single-rep lifts in an attempt to set a new personal record. Conventional wisdom should tell you that lifting heavier weights translates into bigger gains. At the same time, however, it also increases your risk of injury.
Skip the single-rep personal record lifts. Instead, try performing more reps with less weight in a set. Many fitness experts recommend eight to 12 reps per set to build muscle. So, find a weight that allows you to perform between eight and 12 reps, and stick with that weight until you are comfortable moving up.
Tips to Manage Joint Paint
The methods listed above will reduce your risk of developing joint pain when lifting weights. However, you can also manage existing joint pain by making a few changes to your lifestyle. First, make sure you are getting enough sleep. If you aren’t sleeping for at least seven hours a night, your body won’t have the opportunity to heal and repair damaged tissue.
If you aren’t drinking enough water, your joints won’t have the proper lubrication necessary for rotating. Therefore, you should drink plenty of water when exercising to protect your joints from injury. A helpful tip to protect against dehydration is to snack on fresh fruit. Since it contains up to 87 percent water by volume, fruit is an excellent source of hydration.
Massage therapy may also help to alleviate joint pain. It releases muscle knots, flushes the lymphatic symptom and promotes blood flow, all of which can have a positive impact on your joint health.