When you train hard, your joints can take a beating. Even if you aren't an athlete, the physical wear and tear of everyday life can compromise joint health and lead to pain.
Research shows two strategies to achieve pain-free joints:
- Strength training that promotes structural balance
- Nutrition that provides the building blocks for strong, durable joint tissue
Training For Healthy Joints
A strength training program that promotes structural balance is your first line of defense for pain-free joints. Whether your joint pain is due to years on the sports field or too much sedentary time, it comes down to a common problem: Muscle imbalances and degenerative connective tissue that lead to poor movement patterns.
Research shows that weight training is extremely effective for getting rid of moderate-to-severe pain in your joints.
For example, a Danish study performed on young office workers who suffered regular pain in the upper body found significant reductions in pain from weight training. The study compared the effect of having workers do aerobic exercise or upper body weight lifting for 16 weeks.
Results showed that the workers who increased upper body strength and built muscle decreased pain the most. The workers who trained more frequently with a higher training volume decreased their ratings of pain by 35 percent more than those who trained less often and had a lower volume.
How Weights Improve Joint Function
Weight training was significantly better for reducing joint pain than aerobic training. Repeating movements over and over again without added weight, as happens when you do steady-state exercise, causes negative adaptations to your muscular system.
In contrast, lifting weights applies a heavy load to the muscles, induces positive adaptations, and accelerates protein synthesis. Over time, training and building muscle will help reconstruct painful and abnormal muscle tissue. It also helps develop optimal motor patterns and coordination that can help prevent muscle and joint dysfunction.
Nutrition For Healthy Joints
Nutrition provides the building blocks for healthy joints and cartilage. High-quality protein provides the amino acids that stimulate protein synthesis and kickstart repair of connective tissue that makes for pain-free joints.
Phytochemicals in certain plants provide antioxidants that help manage the inflammatory response and assist in preventing free radicals from damaging joints during the wear and tear of everyday life. Ginger and Turmeric are two well-known foods that have joint-repair properties. Lesser known herbs including Boswellia, Horsetail, and Nettle are joint protective due to their antioxidant content.
Then there’s collagen. In addition to supplemental bovine collagen, certain nutrients support the body’s own production of collagen. MSM, chondroitin, and glucosamine sulfite support collagen production and prevent the breakdown of cartilage that is associated with joint pain.
Pain-free movement doesn't have to be a thing of the past. With a well-designed strength training program and high-quality nutrition you can build healthy joints to handle the wear and tear of whatever physical endeavors you embark upon.