It's About Time

If you have ever spent more that 5 minutes with me, it is fairly obvious that I love fitness. I have learned so much (sometimes the hard way) in the 30 years that I have been teaching. What better way to share my passion than to start a blog and pass on the information that I share with clients on a day-to-day basis.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Protect Your Joints

"If exercise is supposed to be good for me, why does it make my joints ache?"  First, exercise is good for everyone.  If you are experiencing joint pain, you should reevaluate the exercises you are doing and make sure they are appropriate for you individually.  There is no "One size fits all" when it comes to your workout routine.  Your cardio and strength training exercise choices should be driven by your fitness goals, your current strength, and postural alignments.  Form and correct biomechanics are critical for joint happiness and integrity.  Most of us never focus on our joints until there is pain.  Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease is the most common disorder which affects over 20 million people.  It is caused by wear and tear on the cartilage within the joint.  You can start promoting joint health by following these simple guidelines.

Protect Your  Joints With Correct Alignment
  • Strength Train-The stronger your muscles are, the more they help align and maintain the joint.  Muscular support can help avoid and alleviate extra strain put on joints.  Exercises should promote health and strength not pain.  Increasing speed of movement also increases risk.  Make every exercise count and make sure it is what your body needs.
  • Stretch-Muscles are attached to bone by tendons.  When a muscle is in a shortened or tightened state, it will pull on the tendon; therefore, it can have an affect on surrounding ligaments and joints.  You should try and feel the gentle pull in the belly of the muscle when stretching.  Avoid feeling the stretch at the origins or insertions (Where the muscles attach) of your muscles.
  • Biomechanics-Always be aware of your alignment.  If you feel pain in a joint as you are moving, it is a clear message that something isn't right.  Listen to your body.  It will definitely give you feedback.  check your angles.  Mirrors can show you a lot about your posture and movement patterns.  An experienced personal trainer can also be a big help in recognizing movement deviations and help you recognize how your body moves.
  • Vary Workouts-Many scientific studies suggest alternating or periodizing your workouts.  Vary your training to incorporate "easy" and "hard" training days, weeks or months.  It is also suggested that alternating training is more effective than training more or less the same every day. (Hansen et al.2005) Cross training is a good option and may help avoid joint overuse issues.
  • Rest-Incorporate recovery into your workout routine.  Your muscles need time to recover and repair.  Lack of recovery can affect muscle and joint integrity while putting muscles and joints at a greater risk.
  • Weight Management-The overweight or obese have an increased chance of developing joint issues.  Gait and joint movement is often altered resulting in pain and the breakdown of joints.  Laura Thorp's, PhD, study on arthritis and rheumatism showed that losing 1 pound resulted in the fourfold decrease in knee joint load.  Basically if you decrease your weight, the load on your joints will go down.  For every pound you are overweight, the stress and load on your joints increases up to 3X.  Example:  If you are 15 pounds overweight, the load felt on the knees is 45 lbs.
Our body is intended to move.  It really needs motion and exercise.  Take steps now to protect your joints.  By doing so you are promoting a quality of movement for a long time to come.

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