How to Avoid Joint Pain While Lifting
First we will look at some of the common causes of joint injury:
- Excessive speed and lack of control are the biggest contributors to joint related injuries. Combined, they lead to sporadic tension throughout the movement which causes a jerking motion and puts acute stress on your joints.
- Sudden initiation of a muscle aka jerking. Using a working weight that is too heavy and not engaging the intended muscle(s) before beginning the movement. Therefore compensations are made and often times lead to injury.
- Hyper extending a joint can be detrimental to joints. So people who have more laxity in their joints struggle with this more often.
- Not working a muscle through a full range of motion (ROM).
- Repeatedly training to failure. There is no reason to go to failure on every set or even during every exercise. Using periodization techniques is a great way to make steady progress while minimizing mechanical damage. To learn more about periodization, read our past article HERE.
- Not allowing enough recovery time between sets and workouts, especially after using heavy eccentric contractions (lengthened muscle under tension).
How to stay injury and pain free:
- Lift smarter. The point of resistance training is maximizing tension from point A to point B. The point is not to move the weight from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. So use a slower speed and practice control of the weight. Training is not a race so control your tempo.
- Use time-under-tension (TUT). It is a great way to practice muscle isolation, correct form, and building the mind-muscle connection. Before you even lift the weight, concentrate on the muscle you should be using and be sure you initiate the movement with that muscle. Learn more about TUT in our past article HERE.
- Be open to learning. No matter how much you think you know you can learn more every day. Be a lifetime learner and stay up-to-date on current lifting techniques. For example, we love blood flow restriction (BFR) training. BFR training for arms is a great way to decrease elbow aches and pains that come along with lifting heavy, especially those commonly associated with triceps isolation movements. You can learn more about BFR in our past article HERE.
- Set up a program with increasing volume so you can compete against yourself each and every workout. This allows for slow, steady, and sustainable progress. Jumping into a brand new program that is too much too soon does not allow your body time to adjust.
- Use progressive active warm ups as working out cold muscles is very unsafe. See some examples HERE.
- Learn what each muscle groups full ROM is so you can strengthen through the full range with different exercises.
- Fully lengthened, shortened, and mid range
- Use light weight until you can create a mind muscle connection and have full control of the muscle. Then slowly progress.
- Use a spotter when doing movements that can compromise a joint or when a joint is vulnerable to injury.
- Stretch. We have some great educational and example posts on the importance of stretching HERE and HERE.