Many of us who exercise regularly get caught up in the amount of weight we want to lift and a lot of times our ego gets in the way and we end up slacking when it comes to using proper exercise technique and form. Although getting stronger is an excellent way to keep you motivated and challenged to come back and better yourself each time you’re in the gym, it’s vital that safety is your primary concern or you might injure yourself and possibly be out for months!
A lot of gym-goers tend to get a little too confident about their level of strength and end up ignoring some of the most important aspects of weight training just to impress their friends and other gym members. It’s important to remember that it’s not about the actual amount of weight you lift but the overall stimulation of the muscle group which helps to make it grow. If you bench press 300 pounds by arching your back and using momentum to get the weight up, how much of your actual pectoral muscles are being targeted and stimulated? Leave your ego at the door and focus on pure repetitions that consist of a slow tempo with direct tension on the muscle at all times. I’m sure you will be much safer and will actually get better muscle building results in the long run.
Injuries in the gym resulting from improper form will wreak havoc on your life. Normal life, work and family chores need to get finished and if you are in pain, it will not make your daily existence a pleasant one. It’s hard enough to get through daily work and house chores, so you definitely don’t want to have a nagging back or shoulder injury while doing these things.
Functional training with moderate weight is the key to getting fit and healthy. This type of training heals the body and fortifies the joints. Connective tissue is what holds our joints together and if they are too tight or too loose, you will have other issues like aches and pains. The result is a chain reaction affecting stabilizer muscles which can really cause damage to other areas of the body.
Training with a full range of motion when using different exercises will help keep the joints and connective tissues optimally “greased” and in the best working order. Of course, your diet will also impact your overall condition so it’s important to consume a sufficient amount of EFAs (essential fatty acids). Nuts, olive oil, avocados and fish are great sources of healthy fats. Along with “good fats”, focus on eating lean proteins (chicken breast, egg whites, lean steak) and carbs that are lower on the glycemic index like oatmeal, sweet potatoes and quinoa along with making sure to also include a bunch of fibrous veggies.
Stretching is a huge part of ensuring optimal joint health. Always try to include at least 10-15 minutes of stretching exercises after your weight training workouts to elongate the muscles and help with recovery.
For the older individuals out there, the above advice is especially important. Of course, you always want to listen to your body and consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise program but resistance training will be very beneficial for building muscle mass while increasing strength levels to help you live a vibrant and pain-free life.
Certain prescription medications and over-the-counter medications to alleviate pain can be considered. You should always consult with your doctor before taking any type of medications. Some popular over-the-counter medications that can help with joint pain include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve). A prescription drug called Indocin is an anti-inflammatory medication that can help with pain caused by arthritis, gout, bursitis and tendonitis. External rubs such as Aspercreme can also be considered to help relieve pain in muscles and joints.
If you’re new to working out, then it’s important to get started with a basic exercise program. Don’t focus on running 5 miles off the bat. Just try to go out for a nice walk for 20-30 minutes 3-4 days per week along with including 20-30 minutes of resistance training exercises. You can use exercise bands, a broom, milk jugs, water bottles and even your own body weight. You don’t need heavy weight to get a great workout. Something as simple as 10-20 push-ups, 50 crunches and 25 body weight squats per day will add to your overall joint conditioning and help to improve your physique.
Across the board, from active to inactive individuals, joint conditioning is essential for all populations and it’s vital to include this type of training into a normal part of your daily routine so you can live life to its fullest!