Medical Articles

Joint Pain and Bodybuilding - Stay Healthy and Move Big Weights!

Are you struggling to keep your joints healthy while lifting heavy iron and packing on muscle? Do you worry that squatting, deadlifting, and benching heavy for months on end is going to take its toll on your knees, wrists, and back? Lifting heavy weights can certainly have its adverse side effects, but you can still take steps to stay healthy! Read on to learn how you can alleviate joint pain and, more importantly, prevent weight room injuries from happening in the first place.

Be Preventative!

You hear the word "preventative" a lot today when people talk about medicine and health care. This is a good thing! Just as you shouldn't leave your body open to disease, you need to take steps ahead of time to ensure healthy joints. People associate joint pain and bodybuilding like mom and apple pie, but that's not how it needs to be.

In short, no matter what you're doing in the weight room, start taking steps TODAY to keep your elbows, wrists, knees, and lower back safe and healthy. Do you need to stop squatting heavy? Do you need to stick to high reps and low weight when you bench press or deadlift? No! But you do need to drop that mindset that you'll deal with the problem when it finally arrives.

Wrap and Strap!

One of the best things you can do for joint health is to wrap your wrists and knees. When you bench press or do other heavy pressing movements, your wrists are at risk for some serious pain if you're not careful. If you keep a tight wrap on for your heavy sets, you'll not only keep your wrists heavy, you'll feel greater stability and move more weight!
As for you knees, you definitely want SOME kind of protection for when you squat, as well as for any other movement that gives your specific body trouble. When you are a beginner, stick to tight-fitting sleeves that keep the joints warm without giving you help on the movement. As you get stronger, start using heavier wraps to both protect the knees and give you a little boost in strength.

Does a Belt Help or Hurt?

If there's one area that strength athletes seem to complain about more than any other, it's the lower back. Though you shouldn't let anyone tell you that "squats are bad for you back," it's true that improper form on heavy exercises can lead to some serious pain and injury. The question is, should you start using a belt, or should you just make your lower back strong enough to do all the work?

The answer is both! If the muscles in your lower back are a weak point, you need to work the hell out of them with squats, deadlifts, rows, and back raises, all done without a belt and with a focus on proper arched form. However, if your lower back is not particularly weak compared to the rest of your lower body, you should be using a belt on your very heaviest sets of squats, deadlifts, and perhaps rows. It will add a bit of strength to your lifts, and it will help keep your spine in a safe, neutral position.


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