Keep Your Joints Healthy While Lifting by Tina Jo Orban
You may not spend much time thinking about your joints. You focus your workouts thinking; ‘Okay I would like to hypertrophy my gastrocnemius or soleus’. You probably don’t think,’ Hey my calcaneal-tendon needs to thicken up to handle my workloads’. But it does. And it will with consistent weight lifting. That is assuming you do a few things. Good nutrition is critical for joint health. Functional articulations (joints) are needed for long-term weight training, or any athletic training for that matter! Water is critical nutrient for joint health (albeit —one that provides no calories). Certain types of exercise are prone to joint injuries. We want to avoid that! So we can move ourselves over a lifetime. It may not be a concern to you now but when you lose the function of a joint you not only lose training and therefore your fitness and muscle, but maybe your activities of daily (ADL’s) living as well.
What can we do? Firstly, let us talk about some nutrients that help HARD CORE TRAINING ATHLETES. One of the best things for your joints is VITAMIN C.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant (inhibits free radical damage) and more importantly is needed in collagen synthesis . It plays a part in wound healing. Training can be taxing on your muscles and joints. Vitamin C MUST be a part of your diet. Great sources of Vitamin C: all citrus fruits, kiwifruit, guava, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers and strawberries! I have a growing concern for those athletes who avoid fruit sugar (fructose) from its source. Fruits are loaded with fiber and vitamins critical for health, Vitamin C is just one. So one way to keeping your joints healthy is consume Vitamin C. Science has PROVEN natural forms of vitamins increase the bioavailability.
Bone Broth has been in the arsenal of training folks lately. Why? Well bone broth is essentially liquefied collagen (gelatin). I guess the old adage ‘you are what you eat’ applies. Joint cartilage can wear down and shrink through continual use. Training with weights can add a lot of stress to your joints, which may become damaged as a result. On a side note, a word about excessive weight gain: it is taxing on your joints. Increases in Body Mass Index (BMI) is tough on knees and ankles. A BMI greater than 30— is better known as obesity. The effect obesity has on one’s joints is damaging. Period. The healthcare costs burden for knee replacements and hip replacements in the US is staggering. “Every pound of body weight places four to six pounds of pressure on each knee joint. Individuals with obesity are 20 times more likely to need a knee replacement than those who are not overweight. From 2002 to 2009, the number of total knee arthroplasty (TKA) procedures performed on patients with obesity doubled.  ” Obesity is not good for the joints. Back to your joints and your training, and bone broth. Bone broth is available commercially from a myriad of supplement companies. It comes from cow chicken or pigs. It is rich in vitamins and minerals of course (since it comes from bones) such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.
Brewing the powdered connective tissue into bone broth provides your body with natural compounds from the cartilage.
Tissues and bones also contain collagen. Cooking collagen turns it to gelatin, which in turn breaks down into amino acids that enable you to assemble your own proteins! Lets not forget collagen and elastin are proteins that make up your JOINTS! There are lots of bone broth suppliers out there. One good one is Kettle & Fire (and its good because they use conscientious practices such as certified organic chicken products and 100% certified grass-fed, grass-finished cattle. And they care about the environment.
Up next is water. Water is CRITICAL for life. We all know that. But did you know synovial fluid is made up of WATER and special proteins that lubricate the surfaces between synovium and cartilage? Dehydrated athletes have less optimized functional joints! Drink water. Current water intakes suggested by RDA is 11 cups for adult female and 15 cups per day adult male. Athletes with rigorous training should drink additional 2-3 cups for EVERY POUND lost post-training (Wardlaw & Smith) .
And now a word about training. There are things to avoid. There are exercises to do to enhance the thickness and strength of joints, providing that you are hydrated and meeting nutrient requirements. The first thing you should know is velocity is a joint killer. That means speed and weight combined are one of the main reasons joints fail. Slow and controlled heavy lifting is VERY important to maintaining your joint integrity. Joints can snap with ballistic style stretching. DON’T bounce when you stretch. And don’t lift heavy weights in quick and jerky motions.
A concept that I learned in a kinesiology course at university is diametrical opposition of stability and mobility. Our joints balance flexibility with stability.
Greater stability means less mobility and conversely greater mobility means less stability. There is a concept of baseline tone . The thicker and more tense muscles are around any given joint means GREATER stability and less mobility it has (mobility—the range in which your joint can move). Stability and mobility—It’s a balancing act.
I will tell you this, weight-bearing exercise makes STRONGER and THICKER joint straps (ligaments) and muscle tendons! Think yoga versus lifting. The muscles and tendons and ligaments ideally lengthen and elongate with long-term yoga and or stretching programs. But the trade-off is stability. The opposite is true as well— thick muscles with thick tendons don’t allow for maximum flexibility. We want a little of both. Strong stable ligaments and tendons, with some flexibility. Training your muscles with weights strengthens your TENDONS AND LIGAMENTS as well! What you should take away from this is weight-bearing exercise increases the strength of your joints ligaments and tendons. As does most forms of exercise to a degree. The major point is the way in which you train should be loads you can handle at speeds your joints can handle. So let’s wrap it up. Vitamin C, in its natural form, is needed for building and repair of wear and tear on joints. Water is needed to keep the synovial fluid flowing and your joints well lubricated. Bone broth is a great source of the collagen and proteins that make amino acids that build your cartilage and ligaments and tendons. Lastly, think about the way you train. Do you run on hard pavement? Do you run at a bodyweight (high BMI) that is killing your joints? Do you train dynamically with weight-bearing loads? High-Intensity Interval Training styles (HIIT) (sprints, Burpees box-jumps etc..) have become very popular exercises. This type of anaerobic training does wonders to decrease body fat and BUILD EXPLOSIVE MUSCLE POWER. Just know that good form and balance are required for dynamic power moves! Professional power-lifters and athletes (think NFL) train for years to have proper athletic techniques in ballistic style exercises, so as not to injure their joints (and themselves). So there you have some tips on healthy joints over the long run. Just don’t run on the pavement.
 Vitamin C regulates the synthesis of the structural protein collagen. ... Specifically, vitamin C has been shown to stabilize collagen mRNA, thus increasing collagen protein synthesis for the repair of the damage Verywellhealth.com <https://www.verywellhealth.com/
the-effects-of-vitamin-c-on-arthritis-190257> 10 May 2020.
 BMI is Body Mass Index. s a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness. BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems but it is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual. In athletes it can be somewhat misleading as the weight for height may look as if the person has too high of a BMI when they are actually heavily muscled. But it should be a biometric measure taken into account. Humans still need to contend with gravity and higher weights (especially compounded with activities such as impact when running). CDC.GOV 10 May 2020.
 The impact of Obesity on Bone and Joint Health American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Position statement 1184 Mar. https://aaos.org/contentassets/
1cd7f41417ec4dd4b5c4c48532183b96/1184-the-impact-of-obesity-on-bone-and-joint-health1.pdf March 2015 2015. 9 May 10, 2020.
 “Synovial fluid” Synovial fluid is the viscous fluid in articular cartilage between all synovial joints. It is a thick liquid made up of plasma filtrate (water, Hyaluronan and other special proteins). Wiktionary.
 Wardlaw’s Contemporary Nutrition a Functional Approach. Wardlaw, Gordon M. Smith, Anne. M. et al. McGraw-Hill Publishing. New York. 2018. 10 May 2020.
 “Baseline tone” sourced from; Kinesiology The Skeletal System and Muscles Function. Muscolino, Joseph E. 2nd edition. Elsevier & Mosby Inc. St. Louis Missouri. 2011.