One of the main objectives I had when I first started training was to make sure to listen to those guys that were older and wiser than I was about what to do and how to do it. It was more than how to perform exercises and how to get stronger. I learned what mistakes they said they made so I would know to avoid those pitfalls they came across the hard way. The biggest issue I saw these grizzled iron veterans deal with is aches and pains – specifically with their knees, shoulders, and elbows. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that helping my joints recover was going to be as important as helping my muscles recover post workout.
If I wanted to know how to help my joints, I had to learn about them first. Joints allow you to bend your legs, arms, fingers, back, and anything else on your body that bends. Cartilage, synovium, and synovial fluid are what provides cushion so your bones don’t rub together. Several factors including heavy training, injuries, neglecting joint health, and age all can play a factor in your joints wearing and tearing which can lead to arthritis later in life. So what can we do to help prevent or postpone this from happening as long as possible?
Keep Training – I know. I just contradicted myself but hear me out. Maintaining a strong physique and healthy lifestyle will help support your skeletal system. Maintain a balance of weight training, cardiovascular activity, and stretching and you will go a long way in maintaining good joint health.
Maintain Good Posture – Whether it is standing or sitting, if you slouch or fail to maintain proper posture, it also helps to carry weight by having it distributed evenly on your body. One example of this is wearing a heavy backpack on both shoulders instead of only one.
Protect Yourself Properly – If you already have joint issues, there is no shame in using wraps in the gym. Knee wraps on squat day or elbow wraps for pressing can go a long way in preventing further damage. If you ride bikes or take part in sports, then by all means, wear protection so you don’t have to deal with the aches and pains later.
Good Nutrition – Yes nutrition is just as important for your joints as it is for your muscles too. The synovial fluid I mentioned earlier is 80% water so you must stay hydrated. A good multivitamin/multimineral combo that has Vitamin C, D, and Calcium should be a staple in your supplement program anyway so I hope you already have that base covered. Many of the foods we eat will have extra nutrients that will help make sure we are properly supporting them as well.
Supplementation – This should be no different than finding quality sports nutrition products to help your muscles recover. A good joint supplement protocol is paramount. The three big ingredients I highly recommend you look for in a good joint supplement are glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane (or MSM for short). Glucosamine is an amino sugar and monosaccharide that is found in shellfish, animal bones, and fungi. Chondroitin is a chondrin derivative and in sulfate form can be found attached to proteins as a part of a proteoglycan. MSM (I’m not typing out that long word again) can be found in the atmosphere above marine areas and has been used to help patients with osteoporosis since the 1980’s. Although the three can be found individually, there are also products that have them all included (like Elastijoint from Labrada Nutrition).
I hope if you’re one of the long time gym guys that you will start focusing more on your joints if you haven’t already and you younger people need to seriously consider adding a joint supplement to your program and take it as seriously as you would any muscle builder or fat burner. It is that important and your joints will thank you now and later in life.
About the Author
Roger “ROCK” Lockridge is a writer whose work has been seen all over the world. He is most known as a writer for Iron Man Magazine and Bodybuilding.com. In 2009, he was named Bodybuilding.com Male Writer of the Year which along with the Female award is the highest award for writers in the bodybuilding/fitness world.
Roger is also known for his work against child abuse and domestic violence and he was featured as a part of the domestic violence documentary “30” as the only child survivor and the only male survivor in the film.