Why Do Joint Injuries Occur?
For us bodybuilders there can be several causes for a joint injury. That’s the bad news. The good news however, is that for the most part, we can avoid these by using the right training, nutrition, supplementation and rest/recovery tactics.
- Excessive use of weight on an exercise coupled with bad lifting technique: In my personal opinion, this is one of the main reasons why so many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts end up with injured joints. Consistently using heavy weights and bad form invariably lead to bursitis, which is the inflammation of the bursae; small fluid filled sacks whose job is to reduce friction in the joint. Elbows and shoulders are often afflicted by this condition so all of you bench press kings please pay attention to this, as it is hard to bench with bad shoulders and elbows. Bad lifting technique too also causes tears on the tendons which can lead to tendonitis. Assuming that the lifting technique is really horrible and there is way too much weight being used as well, then this can lead to total misalignment of the joint as well.
- Muscle strength that increases too quickly: Certain supplements, like creatine and nitric oxide boosters for instance, can cause our muscle strength to skyrocket. While that is a great thing, in these cases, it is of utmost importance that we slowly control the rate at which we add weight to the exercises. Even if more weight can be put on the bar, it is best to oft for doing more repetitions instead. The reason for this is because muscle strength increases much quicker than joint strength. So increasing the training load too soon can easily lead to a joint injury even if the form practiced is impeccable and if the muscles can easily handle the load. This is a situation that is also very often encountered by teenagers as teens’ muscle strength quickly rises due to all the anabolic hormones been produced by the body at that age. Trust me when I say, I am well familiarized with this cause for joint injuries.
- Lack of proper nutrition: Joints, just like muscles, require nutrition and rest. Lack of the right nutrients diminishes the body’s ability to adapt to stress. As a result, if one continues to train with poor nutrition micro tears can start occurring in the tendons as well as a deterioration of the cartilage in the joint, which will lead to more wear and tear of the joint than normal. Chronically low levels of nutrients coupled with hard training will then invariably lead to conditions like osteoarthritis (the more common form of arthritis encountered by weight lifters caused by cartilage becoming rough and thus causing more friction at the joint) and tendonitis, which we briefly discussed above, and is the inflammation of tendons due to accumulated trauma.
- Lack of proper rest/recovery: Consistently overtraining, lack of periodization (meaning that you always train heavy), and lack of sleep all lead to joint problems. Too much training and/or consistently training at 6 repetitions or less will cause too much trauma in the joint that will accumulate over time and result in either osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendonitis or even a full tear. Keep in mind that if the body cannot recover completely, some of the trauma caused at each training session will remain and over time accumulate. Periodization of training and full body part recovery is essential to preventing this micro trauma from accumulating. Also, lack of sufficient sleep will result in poor recovery as it is during sleep that the body produces all anabolic hormones that will be delivering the nutrients to the right places for full recovery. So sleep deprivation leads to depressed hormonal production which at the end of the day, affects your recovery.
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