Prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately, too much of us realize this when it is too late. A joint injury can really set you back in your game. Being forced to take months off to prevent further damage, undergo surgery or end your competitive career because of joint injury can almost always have been avoided. Here are simple and logical ways to prevent joint pain. Perhaps you are currently trying to recover from shoulder joint pain right now.
1. Fish oil
I highly recommend taking fish oil pills daily if you are not eating enough oily fish like salmon. This essential fatty acid (that we simply do not get enough of) promotes and protects joint function. It does this by surrounding and cushioning the joint from impact. This also prevents the joint from grinding against itself. And therefore reduces wear and tear.
2. Proper form
This should top almost every kind of exercise-related prevention list. When you exercise, make sure that you use the right form. This holds true for anaerobic activities like weightlifting and aerobic activities like swimming. Using the wrong form will put unnatural pressure on your joints, instead of allowing the muscles to do the work that they are supposed to do. Make sure that you research and clarify what the correct form is for every exercise that you do. Improper form leads to a large portion of joint pain and injury. This can hurt shoulders in swimmers, knees and ankles in runners and basically any joint in weight lifters. The list goes on.
Your joints take longer to recover and rebuild than your muscles. Your bones take even longer. Overuse is one the leading causes of joint injury. Make sure that you get enough rest. Not all of these rest days need to be inactive. Using a different kind of exercise to work out, but rest another part of your body is called active rest. For example, swimmers can run on their off days to stimulate energy production but give their shoulder joints a rest. Steam rooms are a great way to speed up recovery. The heat also gets more nutrients to the joints to help them recover. Do you get too frustrated about doing nothing on rest days? Find great rest day advice, ideas and tips here.
4. Eat right
Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet with a variety of different food elements. Diets that are too acidic, for example, will increase your body's acidity level and will therefore erode your joint structures. High acid levels are one of the leading causes of gout and arthritis. One great way to lower body acid levels is to eat raw, fresh foods.
5. Drink lemon juice
Ironically, drinking lemon juice reduces the amount of acid in your body. It also gives you a healthy dose of vitamin C, which is crucial for joint maintenance. Lemon juice speeds up recovery by cleaning out your system and it even gives you more energy. This is why athletes and sportsmen should drink lemon juice.
6. Drink less alcohol
Alcohol increases the acid levels in your body. Also, your body will prioritize alcohol metabolism over recovery from exercise when you drink. See how alcohol affects muscle growth.
7. Don't smoke
Yes: smoking kills your joints as well. Since your body is less able to recover and carry nutrients to the parts that need it because of smoking, your joints will suffer. See how smoking inhibits your body's ability to build new muscle.
8. Vary rep range and intensity
Lower rep ranges and higher intensities put a greater stress on joints. Higher rep ranges and lower intensities are easier on joints. How can you further your fitness or transformation goals when you have to include different rep or intensity levels? By doing just that! In fact, varying your routines will provide muscle confusion and therefore better physical improvement. That is one of the reasons why high reps can build muscle mass in ways you never imagined.
9. Plan your workouts with joint health in mind
For example, many people debate whether you should have separate shoulder days at the gym. Some argue that isolating them on their own day will stimulate them to grow stronger whilst others say that they need more rest. Make sure that you give all of your joints the stimulation that they need to get stronger, and also that you give them the rest that they need to strengthen. Finding the balance and planning your exercise plan accordingly will ensure great joint health.
10. Isometric exercises
Isometric exercises are exercises that work muscles without moving them. A good example of an isometric movement is the plank (a good core exercise). Studies show that isometric exercises can strengthen joints, prevent injury and even speed up recovery from injury. They can give your muscles more power where you need it most!
Range of motion refers to the range at which a muscle and joint can bend or stretch. Limited range of motion increases injury risk because your body is not able to move as much as you might move it while doing a certain sport or exercise. For example, swimmers need to work on greater shoulder joint mobility. If their mobility is limited, they face a greater risk of hurting their shoulder joints (and muscle) during races when they are exerting themselves as much as they can. The same goes for all physical sports and exercises. Stretching can also improve muscle recovery and size.
12. Get into the habit of warming upA good warm up will not only decrease the chance of injury but also improve performance. Do an exercise that is lighter than your workout but still warms up your body. Your warm up should produce a light sweat. This will increase blood circulation so that your body is better able to move, provide nutrients to joints and muscle, and expel waste products like carbon monoxide and lactic acid.
Follow these simple tips to strengthen and protect your joints. You will save countless weeks and coin on recovery and you will have one less thing to worry about. As you might have noticed, all of the things listed above have much more benefit than just improving your joints. STAY STRONG!