How to Protect Your Joints When Lifting Weights
by Evelyn Valdez·
When it comes to lifting weights, no matter how light or heavy you lift, it’s important to remember that your muscles aren’t the only ones doing the work – your joints are part of it too! And while they’re not the primary movers, or at least they should never be, they’re still involved in every single movement that you do.
Because of this, joint pain is bound to happen at some point. Maybe one day your muscles weren’t fully ready and some of the load went to your joints, or you performed a heavy exercise incorrectly. This isn’t ideal, but luckily there are a few ways to avoid it!
In this article, we’ll tell you how to prevent joint pain when lifting weights so you can make gains safely at the gym. Even if you’ve never had joint pain before in your strength training journey, these are all safety tips that will protect you in the future, so keep reading!
Warm-up and cool down appropriately
Warming up should be the first thing you do before performing any kind of exercise or physical activity, especially if it’s as intense as weightlifting. You’ll be putting a lot of stress on your joints and muscles, so you need to make sure you’re properly warmed up and ready.
And keeping your joints healthy doesn’t stop there! Having a proper cool-down session after finishing your workouts will help your body recover faster and more effectively. This way, you can tackle your next workout without any soreness and without putting your joints at risk of injury.
Stretching is one of the best ways to both warm up and cool down. Before your workout, perform dynamic stretches that mimic the movements that you’ll be doing during your workout to increase your flexibility. And when you’re done, perform static stretches to release all the built-up tension and relax your muscles.
Master proper form before adding more weight
A common mistake lifters often make is lifting heavy before mastering a certain exercise just because they already have a good base strength. Being strong isn’t the only thing you need to perform an exercise correctly – you also need to learn the correct exercise form!
This is particularly important if you’re doing a barbell exercise, as the risk of injury is greater the heavier the weight is. If you don’t learn how to move properly through the exercise before lifting a heavy weight, your body won’t be in the ideal position to handle that much tension and your joints will absorb all the stress from the weight.
Avoid locking your joints
Elbow and knee extension is a very common movement in weight training because they help you lengthen the working muscles in your arms and legs. However, you need to be careful when nearing full extension to avoid locking your joints completely!
When you lock your elbows or knees, you switch the tension from your muscles directly to your joints, leaving most of the weight for them to handle. Not only is this harmful to your joints, but you also lose time under tension on your muscles, meaning that you’re not giving them nearly as good a training as you think. Always leave a slight bend!
Use lifting gear for heavy lifts
Sometimes, pushing your body to the limit is necessary to make the gains that you want, such as when you’re trying to max out on a certain exercise to be able to lift heavier. For these heavy lifts, using lifting straps and wrist wraps can be a true lifesaver!
Lifting straps are secured on one end to your hand and on the other to the bar, helping reduce grip fatigue for heavy pulling exercises such as deadlifts and barbell rows. Wrist wraps, on the other hand, go around your wrists for compression and support when it comes to heavy pushing exercises like overhead presses and triceps extensions.
Both of these items are designed to help you focus on engaging your muscles as much as possible, protecting your joints so you can avoid any unnecessary pain. So make sure to check out the UPPPER Collection to grab a pair of both!
Avoid bouncing throughout the exercise
During lifting, keeping both the weight and your body under control is crucial to building muscle mass and reducing the risk of injury. However, another common lifting mistake is bouncing between movements, letting momentum take over and accidentally overloading your joints because you’re either using too much weight or a bad form.
When this happens, you’re basically launching yourself to the next part of the movement instead of moving throughout the exercise smoothly. This puts unnecessary stress on your joints and often forces them to go beyond the natural range of motion, straining them. Remember, only use a weight that you can handle to avoid bouncing!
Add landmine exercises to your routine
Not all lifting needs to be done vertically or horizontally – diagonal loading is also an incredibly effective and even safer alternative! We’re talking about landmine exercises, which involve pushing or pulling a barbell that’s only loaded on one end to help reduce the direct impact that the weight has on your joints.
Take landmine presses, for example. The diagonal path that the weight follows as you push it away from your body is gentle enough on your joints that you can even perform it with a single arm. This makes it a perfect exercise program for those already suffering from discomfort, recovering from injuries, or simply trying to avoid future joint pain.
Drop the “no pain, no gain” mentality
Last but not least, if it hurts, stop immediately. It doesn’t matter if you’re using the correct form and light weight, if it starts hurting don’t try to push your body just for the sake of getting through the exercise. If you find yourself in this position, don’t worry – that’s what variations and alternatives are for!
Maybe you can’t get through a certain exercise because your range of motion is limited, you didn’t warm up correctly, or your active muscles aren’t strong enough. No matter the reason, never brush your pain off and instead try a different exercise that targets the same muscles. If the pain persists, stop completely and talk to your doctor.
Learn how to lift safely for better gains and a healthier journey
By making sure that you’re not overloading your joints in any way, you’re not only avoiding possible pain and discomfort but also set yourself up for success in the future by keeping your body healthy. Plus, these tips help put all the focus on your muscles, allowing you to make bigger and better gains in no time!
Need fitness gear to help ease your joint pain when lifting heavy?
UPPPER Lifting Straps and Wrist Wraps should be your go-to for heavy pulling and pushing exercises! All of our gear is made with high-quality material that is supportive, durable, comfortable and stylish.
>> Shop UPPPER Collection <<