There is a common assumption that weightlifting can be bad for joints. But how true is this notion? In theory, this logic does make sense, since you're pushing on your muscles and lifting a lot of weight.
As it turns out, however, the opposite may be true. Weightlifting is actually very good for your joints, in most circumstances.
Some research has even suggested that joints were healthier for individuals who lifted weights than they were for people that didn’t do any form of resistance training.
With that being said, there are circumstances when weightlifting can cause problems for your joints. It’s not actually dangerous to lift weights, but sometimes you may find yourself getting hurt while you’re lifting.
It’s the same as if you were playing other sports or doing any other kind of physical activity. This article explores the truth behind the stigma that weightlifting is bad for your joints;
Risk Assessing The Joints
There are generally two main situations when a person may injure their joints while lifting. The first is when the person is trying to lift more weight than they can realistically handle.
Yes, it’s important to challenge yourself and progressive overload is an important component of any weight lifting regime. With that in mind though, you’re not superhuman.
If you’re trying to lift double your body weight and you haven’t even been lifting weights for more than around 3 weeks, then you may want to reduce the amount of weight that you’re trying to lift for the sake of your joints. You don’t want to injure yourself, after all.
Weightlifting is an art form in itself. It’s not just a matter of picking up a weight, dropping it, then picking it up again. Form is an essential part of lifting weights. If you aren’t using the proper form while you’re lifting, then you are far more likely to injure your body.
It’s very easy to lift weights with improper form, especially with notoriously difficult movements such as the deadlift, bench press, and squat. Before you try to lift more than you can realistically carry, check your form first.
Your body will thank you for it. If you are struggling with your form, practice with a lower weight than you can manage until you master the form.
Oh, and here’s another thing. It’s a common misconception that you have to be in pain when lifting weights. This is most certainly not the case. If you are feeling pain while you are lifting weights, it’s a good idea to stop what you’re doing and take a break.
Overstraining your muscles can result in injuries, and that’s the last thing that you need when you’re trying to get good results in the gym. If you do get injured, make sure that you take a breather. Your muscles need time to heal if you’ve injured them.
In essence, though, weightlifting is good for your joints, bones, and muscles. The key is ensuring that you lift correctly when you’re doing it so that you can avoid injury. Getting injured thanks to improper weight lifting is bad for your joints, not weight lifting.
The muscles surrounding the joints also play a part in reducing joint pain. Weightlifting directly targets those muscles, strengthening them and helping them function at their full capacity.
When those muscles work as they should, they can carry the burden of pressure, leaving your joints without any undue strain
If you struggle with bad knees, for example, you may be hesitant to take up weight lifting. After all, you may be concerned that strenuous activity will make your knees even worse.
Thankfully though, it is possible to lift weights with bad knees. You just need to make some modifications to keep you safe while you exercise.
The first thing worth noting, however, is that you should always check with your doctor before starting a new form of exercise if you have a pre-existing medical condition that could have an impact on you while you are exercising.
Your doctor can advise whether the training in question will be a good fit for you and your condition.
How To Weight Lift Safely With A Pre-existing Knee Problem
Make sure that you have a great warmup before you start lifting. You should pay extra attention to your hamstrings and legs in general. If your hamstrings are warmed up, you will have more stability and range of motion as you are lifting.
It will also mean that your compound movements will be much smoother. Try not to go too heavy at first either. Once you have warmed up the legs, you can proceed with warming up the rest of the body before moving on to your main moves.
Before you start lifting, you should also be careful about the type of cardio that you do. Try to avoid things like running, cycling or rowing if you can, since these require a lot of repetitive actions that can impact your joints. Instead, try things like swimming if you can.
When you are ready to get started on your training, you should choose movements that give you your full range of motion. Stay away from partial lunges and half squats, since these movements can put too much of a load onto your quads.
This can sometimes result in injury, and you may feel more imbalanced. This is a recipe for disaster when you already struggle with your joints.
Make sure that you’re looking out for your hips while you’re training too since they are closely linked with your knees. High knee walks and cradle walks can be a great choice for your hips.
If you are training with bad knees, it’s also best to avoid isolated movements. Stay away from things like leg extensions or hamstring curls if you can, since they can put pressure on certain knee joints, which is not a great choice when you already have bad knees.
Instead, it’s better to practice compound movements that target the whole body instead. This includes things like deadlifts and squats.
Most importantly of all, don’t push yourself too hard. The last thing that you want to do is put too much pressure on your joints than you can handle. It’s better not to risk injury and to work in a way that’s comfortable for you in order to get the best results.
How To Weight Lift Safely With A Pre-existing Back Problem
Deep squats and deadlifts from the floor are common cornerstones of weight lifting. However, if you are tall, have poor flexibility, have pre-existing back pain, or have any other kind of biomechanical issue, those big ranges of motion could contribute to lower back pain.
You don’t have to give up these exercises but reducing your range of motion can take a lot of stress off your lower back while allowing you to continue using really heavy weights.
If deadlifts from the floor hurt your lower back, try deadlifting from pins or blocks which raise the bar to just below knee height. If you can squat below parallel without rounding your lower back, do box squats instead.
How To Weight Lift Safely With A Pre-existing Elbow Problem
Reduce chronic inflammation in the body. When you reduce chronic inflammation, injured and inflamed elbow tendons heal and recover faster. Supplement with magnesium to replenish magnesium levels in the forearms.
Magnesium reduces inflammation and pain, relaxes tense forearm muscles, and decalcifies the elbow tendon and elbow joint. Massage the forearm flexor muscles. You can use myofascial pain relief tools, like a massage ball, to massage and release the forearm flexor muscles.
How To Weight Lift Safely With A Pre-existing Wrist Problem
Wrist straps can assist with securing your grasp around heavy barbells. If wrist motion is uncomfortable during these types of activities, braces or wraps can restrict your wrist motion and avoid awkward pulls.
Exercise tools such as yoga or push-up blocks can help you modify your wrist position for increased comfort as your weight bears through your hands. Also, make sure to use a yoga pad or towel under the wrist when performing weight-bearing exercises.