Moving around and building up supporting muscles slows down the deterioration of your joints that comes with aging. A sound exercise program may even enable you to postpone or avoid knee surgery and other procedures. Strength training plays an integral part in your health and fitness, but you may be concerned about injuring your joints or other body parts. By concentrating on proper technique, you can tone your muscles, enhance your posture, and reduce discomfort and stiffness in your joints. Try these guidelines for protecting your joints and staying safe while lifting weights.
1Properly Warm Up And Cool Down
Start with gentle movements that raise your body temperature. March in place or lunge to each side. Cool down with easy floor exercises and stretches for your whole body.
2Watch Your Form And Breathing
Extend your arms and legs through a full range of motion without locking your knees or elbows to avoid putting too much pressure on your joints. Keep your back straight and hold your shoulders down. Additionally, holding your breath could raise your blood pressure or even lead to fainting. Instead, exhale while you exert force and inhale on the less strenuous portion of the exercise.
3Vary Your Routine
Repetitive motions and imbalances can also strain your joints. Limit your sets to about 15 reps or less. Design a program that covers all your muscle groups, so your back and chest become equally developed.
4Start Off Slowly
Practice exercises with little or no weight at first. Increase the intensity by 10% or less at a time. That could mean, doing a couple of extra reps or adding a few pounds. Let your muscles do the work, instead of allowing momentum to take over. Count to 3, as you raise the weight and as you lower it.
5Toss Away The Training Belt
On the other hand, most experts now advise against weight training belts. A firm core provides more reliable support than any accessory you can buy. Schedule some abdominal work for each session, like leg raises and planks.
6Wear Right Always
Shoes give you traction while you're balancing extra weight. Try on a variety of mid-cut sports shoes to find a style you like. On the other hand, if you're susceptible to blisters, try wearing workout gloves. They also help to tighten your grip.
7Work Out With Safety In Mind
If you want to handle heavy loads, find a partner who can grab the barbell if you start to falter. Most gym members consider it a common courtesy and are happy to oblige. Also, return weights to the rack when done. You'll be less likely to trip over them, and you'll do your part to keep the gym looking presentable.
8Consider Alternatives To Weights
Of course, there is more to strength training than traditional weights. When you're short on space or equipment, try resistance bands or moves that use your body weight like chin-ups and dips. Pneumatic machines that use air resistance are also a great way to lessen the impact on your joints.
9Let Your Muscles Rest And Recover
Strength training causes tiny but harmless tears in your tissues. Your muscles grow when those tears repair, so give them a break for 24 to 48 hours. You can target other body parts while you wait.
10Get Your Doctor's Recommendation
Before starting any strength training, make sure you have an assessment and a program that fits you. Consulting your doctor is especially important if you've been sedentary or have medical conditions, such as diabetes. Your physician can recommend a workout program based on your personal history.
Strength training can be risky if your technique is not right. Taking sensible precautions will protect your joints from injuries that could interrupt your workouts. A consistent strength training program helps you to shape up your body and perform your daily activities with greater ease.
Jackie Wing is an Alaska native, who enjoys snowboarding more than is probably socially acceptable. She lives in Anchorage with her two dogs Reese and Peanut, or as she likes to call them "Thing 1" and "Thing 2."