BY GAINZ STAFF
A form of resistance training, weightlifting encourages the development of bigger muscles by exposing muscle tissue to stress. Whether you’re bench pressing a weighted barbell, lifting dumbbells or swinging a kettlebell, you are exposing your muscles to stress, which triggers a response by your body to rebuild the damaged muscle tissue bigger and stronger than before.
Unfortunately, weightlifting can also be taxing on your joints. It compresses tendons, cartilage and ligaments where bones meet, often stressing these tissues beyond their physical capacity. While the human body can quickly and easily repair damaged muscle tissue, it takes longer to repair joint damage.
“Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes on dynamic stretches before hitting the weights.”
You can still lift weights to build bigger muscles, but you should take precautions to protect your joints from injury.
Before lifting weights, perform dynamic stretches to warm up your body and loosen your joints. Unlike static stretches, dynamic stretches involve the constant movement of your body or a part of your body. Arm circles, for example are considered a type of dynamic stretch since they require the constant rotation of your arms.
Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes on dynamic stretches before hitting the weights. Other dynamic stretches include walking lunges, torso twists, standing back stretch, standing toe touches, air squats and hand walks.
CHOOSE LIGHTER WEIGHTS
Lifting lighter weights can reduce your risk of joint injury. The more weight you lift, the greater the stress placed on your joints. To protect your joints, choose weights that are 50% to 70% of your 1 rep max. You’ll have to perform more reps to achieve gains, but lifting lighter weights is easier on your joints then heavier weights.
Some bodybuilders do not like the notion of lifting lighter weights, believing it will hinder their ability to gain muscle mass. According to a study conducted by researchers from McMaster University, however, this isn’t the case. After following 49 male athletes for 3 weeks, researchers from the Canadian University found athletes who lifted lighter weights for about 25 reps per set gain the same amount of muscle mass as athletes who lifted heavier weights for about half the number of reps.
Hydration and joint health go hand-in-hand. Research shows the average adult’s body is comprised of about 65% water. Along with regulating the human body’s internal temperature and aiding in digestion, water lubricates the joints, so the connected bones can glide smoothly. If you lift weights while dehydrated, the lack of lubrication in your joints can could result in painful friction when moving weights.
“Along with regulating the human body’s internal temperature and aiding in digestion, water lubricates the joints, so the connected bones can glide smoothly.”
The amount of water you need to drink to stay hydrated and protect against joint injury varies depending on your body weight. In the past, medical experts recommended a minimum of 64 Oz daily. New findings, however find body weight is a better bassline to use for hydration requirements. To determine how many ounces of H2O you need to drink per day, take your body weight and multiply it by six six. If you weigh 200 lb, for instance, drink at least 105 Oz of water per day.
DON’T LOCK YOUR KNEES
When performing barbell squats, leg extensions or any other form of resistance weight training that requires you to bend your knees, don’t lock your knees. In other words, avoid fully extending your knees to the point where the upper and lower portions of your leg are completely aligned.
Locking your knees shifts the stress of weight from your muscles to your knee joints. Therefore it’s easier to hold a position with your knees locked, but unfortunately it increases risk of joint injury.
JOINT PROTECTION SUPPLEMENTS
You can increase your body’s defense against joint injury by taking the right supplements. Glucosamine is a popular joint supplement because of its ability to rebuild damaged cartilage and lubricate the joints. Our bodies produce some glucosamine on their own, but taking a glucosamine supplement ensures your body has a sufficient amount of this amino acid to protect your joints from excessive wear and tear.
Another supplement that can lower your risk of joint injury when lifting weights is chondroitin sulfate. This chemical occurs naturally in joint cartilage. By taking a chondroitin supplement, you’ll encourage your body to rebuild damaged or weak cartilage.
MIX UP WEIGHT LIFTING WITH LOW IMPACT EXERCISES.
Avoid spending all of your time at the gym on lifting exercises. Instead, mix up your regimen by including low impact exercises like using an elliptical, stair climber or treadmill. They aren’t as effective at building muscle mass as high impact exercises, but low impact exercises such as these are safer on your joints.
REST AFTER LIFTING
Lifting weights on multiple consecutive days won’t increase your gainz. It will only slow down your progress by restricting your body’s ability to heal the damaged muscle tissue while increasing your risk of joint injury in the process. If you don’t rest, your muscles and Joints will continue to degrade.
“…you need to protect your joints from unnecessary stress. Otherwise you could sustain a joint injury that takes weeks or even months to recover from. “
For healthy joints, rest for 48 to 72 hours after lifting weights. You can perform other, lighter exercises during this time, such as aerobics but you should avoid high impact exercises that stress the same muscles and Joints targeted during your previous workout.
WEAR A COMPRESSION BRACE OR WRAP
Wearing a compression brace or wrap while lifting weights is beneficial for several reasons. First, it isolate specific muscles, allowing you to perform more reps per set. Second, it stimulates blood flow to feed muscle tissue with oxygen-rich blood. Third, when used on a joint, it stabilizes the joint to protect it from stress-induced injury.
If you’ve experienced pain or discomfort with a particular joint in the past, use a compression brace or wrap when lifting weights. You can find compression braces and wraps for knees, wrists, elbows, ankles, shoulders and more.
There’s no substitute for weightlifting if you’re trying to build muscle mass. It engages your muscles with more force than your bodyweight to encourage bigger muscles. But you need to protect your joints from unnecessary stress. Otherwise you could sustain a joint injury that takes weeks or even months to recover from. GAINZ
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