Is Lifting Weights Bad for Your Joints?

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A lot of people are apprehensive to lifting weights because of a fear or pain or injury.

I think this is a dying idea. I definitely hope it is on its way out. It has been a long time since I have heard the ol’ “Isn’t squatting bad for your knees”?

Injuries typically do not happen when lifting weights. Weight training has one of the lowest injury risks when compared to traditional sports. We have no problem with people playing soccer but we worry when it comes time to lift weights.

That being said, any injury that does occur in the weight room happens by fooling around or racking/unracking weights. These two instances are just simply due to a lack of focus. No one plans to drop a weight on their foot, but it can happen when someone isn’t paying attention.

Lifting weights is actually one of the better things that will help improve joint health.

Strength training improves strength in our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Those are the same structures that make up our joints. In order to have strong joints, the pieces of them must be strong.

By using resistance training we can help our joint stability.

Tissues adapt to stress placed upon it. When bones are under stress, they will make more bone tissue to protect against that stress. This makes bones more resilient to stresses.

Tendons and ligaments work in the same fashion. The more manageable force that is placed on them, the stronger they will become.

Joint injuries occur when the force is too great for the joint to handle or the repetitive use is too much to handle.

Too high of a volume of running can definitely run its toll on the lower body. A strong lower body will be more resilient than one that has never seen a weight room. The second half of the equation is recovery. Improper recovery can definitely lead to some annoying aches and pains.

The best strategy to improve joint health is going to be strength training combined with good recovery methods. Lifting weights can be a very valuable addition if you have cranky knees, ankles, or hips.

This is really important for both athletes and general public alike. Athletes are very likely to experience high forces. This can come through contact, sprinting, throwing, swinging, and changing direction.

Strength training should be total body and weight bearing. There should be a good balance of knee dominant, hip dominant, upper body pushes, and pulling movements. This will help improve an athlete’s ability to absorb force.

One of the more underrated types of exercises to help improve joint durability is loaded carries.

By walking with weights we get a lot of core activation and loading of the tissues.

This makes carry variations some of the safest and most effective movements an athlete can do. Most of them are simple, pick that weight(s) up and walk with it.

This doesn’t require advanced technique and is self limiting, meaning the athlete will drop the weight if it is too heavy. There are a lot of benefits here.

Some of the best carry exercises are below.

A lack of joint strength is much more dangerous than training to improve it. Adding in weighted carries can be a safe and effective way to help with joint strength.