How to Look After your Joints When Lifting Heavy!

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We caught up with Bio-Synergy ambassador James Rutherford to discover how to look after your joints when lifting heavy! James has a BSc(Hons) in Sport and Exercise Science and maintains a strong interest in sports nutrition, exercise physiology, bodybuilding and powerlifting. Learn more about James on his Bio-Synergy ambassador profile. #MakeItHappen

Joint pain is one of the most common injuries amongst those partaking in regular resistance training, and is often the main cause of niggling little injuries that stop you from putting 110% into your workouts. Most annoyingly, persistent little injuries amongst those who weight train are not actually muscular but joint-related pain, and are especially common in those who lift heavy weights in a repetitive fashion (e.g. week after week, month after month), and even more so if regular de-load/rest periods are not undertaken to allow the joints to sufficiently rest and recover.

The most common joint injuries in weight lifters are those affecting the tendons; most notably, tendinosis. Tendinosis, unlike tendonitis, doesn’t include inflammatory activity at the tendon but instead involves a breakdown of the collagen fibres. This is caused by chronic overuse of the tendon during repetitive activities such as squatting and bench pressing, where there is high levels of tensile stress on the tendon. Because the damage to the tissue is due to collagen damage the recovery and healing process takes longer than standard tendonitis due to the slow rebuilding of collagen fibers whereas inflammation quickly initiates the tissue repair process and moves through the various stages inflammatory tissue healing at a much quicker rate. Therefore because collagen regeneration is a slow process, tendinosis at a particular joint can become recurrent as the majority of people are not aware of just how long it takes for the injury to fully heal and will begin training again once they appear to be pain free; as a result cause further damaged to the un-healed tissue.

A further two tendon related conditions affecting the ability to lift heavy are tenosynovitis and avulsion. Tenosynovitis is another chronic overuse injury caused by inflammation of the protective synovial sheath covering the tendon and only affects those tendons covered by a synovial sheath. The sheath reduces friction between the tendon and the stabilizing band that holds the tendon in place (retinaculum) and the surface between the tendon and the sheath can quickly become rough due to adhesion cause by chronic overloading or excessive friction. This results in a grating sensation being felt between the tendon and its sheath as the joint is moved through its range of motion, especially when it encounters resistance.

Avulsion differs from tendinosis and tenosynovitis as it is an acute tendon injury and occurs when the tendon is completely torn away from the attachment site on the bone, caused by extremely high tensile loads, most notably during 1 rep max lifting. This type of injury is the least common of the three tendon injuries described as the tensile strength in a tendon is often more than twice that of its associated muscle and therefore any full thickness ruptures usually occur at the musculotendionous junction, where the muscle attaches to the tendon, as this is the weakest point in the entire contractile unit.

But don’t let any of this prevent you from shifting that heavy poundage necessary for building thick, dense muscle! You just need to ensure that you are correctly looking after your joints, including ensuring your biomechanical lifting pattern is correct and is adding no unnecessary stress to your joints; and also consider the use of joint support straps/wraps when you’re lifting that really heavy weight, just to add some further support to the joint. A great way of ensuring long lasting joint health is to consume nutritional aids that promote joint health. Most research in this area focuses on the use of Glucosamine Sulfate as best supplement for joint health especially with regards to the short term (Pajalte, Llavore & Ylescupidez, 1980) and long term (Reginster et al., 2001) improvements it has on degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis.

Research into Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) also suggests that this organic sulfur based compound helps to support joint health with specific relation to osteoarthritis also; and is even suggested by some research that it be taken along with Glucosamine Sulphate to enhance the potential joint restorative capabilities (Usha & Naidu, 2004). Using Bio-Synergy’s Performance Joint Formula can help to improve the functional ability of your joints by providing 100% pure MSM; therefore helping to protect the connective tissue surrounding the joint; thus allowing you to blast past those niggling little pains that are keeping you from doing what you love to do, lifting heavy!