A friend and I had a discussion some years ago. We were complete beginners to strength training. He had started to develop some wrist pain after his workouts and asked me if joint-pain is just a necessary part of getting in shape. I agreed, as I suffered from shoulder pain myself. I then proceeded to tell him, that having pain in your joints is simply a toll, that every person needs to face when getting the body they want. I’ve never been so wrong in all my life.
Some years fast forward and I’m completely pain free. I didn’t achieve this state by following a crazy and new workout schedule. I achieved this state by simply following the basics that I will lay out to you in the following article.
The Fundamentals to Stay Pain-Free
1. Move Often
A good friend of mine, Daniel, is a passionate long-distance runner. He plans to run 60 consecutive miles this year. He told me that his joints have never felt better since he started running on a regular basis. Daniel is not an isolated case. Remember that your joints need movement to function properly.
The saying ‘Use it or lose it!’ holds true for most parts of your body. The human organism has evolved to save energy over time. We’re basically survival machines. Survival machines can’t waste energy on things, that give no value to them in return.
Your joints, muscles, ligaments and bones are all made to facilitate movement. Your joints get nutrients and deposit waste with the help of the synovial fluid. But here’s the catch: Synovial fluid only gets secreted by mechanical stresses, aka: movement. While high stresses on your cartilage may decline your joint health too, lack of physical activity is a big factor in the formation of joint pain.
2. Have The Correct Form
Crossfit has risen in popularity over the past few years. While one of the biggest strengths of Crossfit is their fun workouts – I’ve tried them some time ago – there’s nonetheless a high chance for injury. Crossfit exhausts you and forces you to push beyond your limits. While pushing your limits, you often neglect having a proper form.
Having good form is crucial when it comes to keeping you injury free. A small error in your training style can accumulate over the long-run, leading to stress injuries. A small bending of your wrist when doing the bench press or a slightly rounded spine while deadlifting may accumulate and leave you with great pain. Focus on the details in your form.
3. Train Your Whole Body
I manage a fitness center for a big chain in Switzerland. Recently a new client asked me for more chest exercises. He’s already doing 5 exercises for his chest only. His workout plan consists of training his biceps, abs and chest. His plan is not balanced, and therefore will lead to injuries.
A better way to structure your workout plan is to train your whole body. Your body is a system and your muscles are connected with each other. A dominant chest with neglected back muscles will lead to a slouched posture. Dominant hamstrings with underdeveloped quads will lead to knee problems.
If you’re a beginner, I suggest you to train your whole body in every workout. You can still implement 2-3 extra exercises for specific body parts that you specifically want to focus on. This is more than enough for you to get a great training stimulus. Arnold Schwarzenegger trained for years with a full body workout.
Training doesn’t need to hurt your joints
Training in the gym is healthy for your whole body, including your joints. Keep training pain-free by focusing on these 3 rules that will keep your joints healthy for years to come.
Remember to move often, move well and train your whole body. Don’t hesitate to get help from a professional or ask a competent friend. Your body is worth it, trust me.