With our aging baby boomer population, joint pain and joint problems such as arthritis are rapidly becoming major health concerns. Knee, hip and other “load bearing” joint surgeries are becoming increasingly more common. But did you know that a regimen of exercise that includes weightlifting and nutritional supplements like Glucosamine has actually helped some people avoid surgery?
There is a misconception that working out with weights can cause stiff joints, or joint pain. However, that is simply not true. I am not saying that no one has ever left a gym with a sore knee, or shoulder, or elbow, quite the contrary, people often do. But, if that is caused by your weightlifting routine you are probably doing something wrong. Chances are you are not warming up properly prior to weightlifting, lifting with poor technique, or too much weight, or are not allowing enough time for your joints to recuperate after sets.
However, when it comes to discussing the joint pain that can and does occur from every day “wear and tear”, osteoarthritis or other conditions, proper weight training has been found to actually improve joint health, return functionality, and decrease common joint pain.
Evidence for Strength Training and Mediating Joint Pain
A recent study released in the journal Arthritis Care and Research, followed two groups of patients with knee arthritis. One group was given a regular series of range of motion (ROM) exercises, the other a regular routine of strength training exercises that included weightlifting routines to strengthen the quadriceps and other leg muscles. All patients in the weightlifting group reported less pain than in the ROM group, and more importantly, X-rays of those in the strength training group verified that the progression of their arthritis had slowed.
How Does Weightlifting Reduce Joint Pain
Regular exercise of the joints replenishes joint lubricants and builds cartilage. Weightlifting increases the muscles around joints. Stronger muscles from weightlifting exercises offer more support to the joints. From the process of weightlifting, you become physically stronger. This means you can participate in more activities, which make your joints healthier. We already know how weight training builds muscle and how that can improve your overall health and help you lose weight. All orthopedic specialists agree a sure way to reduce joint pain and improve joint health is to lose weight and ease some of the burden on those weight-bearing joints like the hip or knees.
Simple common weight training exercises such as squats and leg lifts have been found to be the best to reduce joint pain of the hips and lower extremities. If you are not already weightlifting just as a matter of course to improve health and are experiencing knee or hip pain, now is a great time to start. Many Americans have totally eliminated their need for anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications to manage their joint pain through weightlifting and strength training.
And once you have eliminated your joint pain and start to realize all the other benefits from working out with weights, you can be well on your way on the road to better health and better fitness all around.