Lifting weights is one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve the health and longevity of your body. Besides increasing muscle mass and building strength, a regular weightlifting routine can strengthen the body’s immune system, elevate mood, improve flexibility and result in better overall health. Once in a while though, we all tend to overdo it when lifting weights, resulting in joint pain and inflammation that cannot only be painful but even debilitating.
Joint pain and inflammation most often occur in the shoulders and the knees but can crop up in the elbows, forearms, wrists, ankles or even hips. The level of pain can range from a mild irritation to severe pain that inhibits or prevents movement. Joint pain and inflammation can be caused by an injury or chronic conditions such as arthritis, bursitis or tendonitis. First, let’s take a look at chronic conditions that can cause joint pain and inflammation in weightlifters.
• Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms of this troublesome ailment. For bodybuilders, osteoarthritis is the more common of the two. This one is generally brought on by wear and tear of the joints and is characterized by pain and stiffness in the joints. It occurs when cartilage in the joints becomes rough, causing friction and then pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term disease that is far less common in bodybuilders.
• Bursitis: This condition occurs when the bursa (fluid-filled sacs) between tendons and skin or tendons and bone become inflamed. Bursitis can become acute or chronic. The bursa assist in movement by reducing friction between moving parts. Bursitis is typically caused by overuse or trauma, but can also be the result of an infection.
It most often causes trouble in the shoulders, knees, hips or elbows, but other areas such as the foot are susceptible too. It is characterized by joint pain and tenderness when you press around the joint, stiffness and achiness when you move the affected joint and swelling, warmth or redness around the affected joint.
• Tendonitis: When tendons become inflamed and movement becomes painful as a result, tendonitis can occur. Sometimes the tendons become inflamed for a variety of reasons, and the action of pulling the muscle becomes irritating. While there are hundreds of tendons throughout our body, there are only a handful that tend to get tendonitis—these are ones that have an area of poor blood supply, making them susceptible to damage and poor healing response.
This area of a tendon that is prone to injury is referred to as a “watershed zone,” due to weak blood supply that inhibits the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Consequently, these areas, when injured, become readily inflamed and take a long time to heal. Tendonitis tends to be an overuse injury.
Besides the conditions mentioned above, joint pain and inflammation can also be caused by an injury. For weightlifters, the rotator cuff in the shoulder region is among the most injury-prone joints in the body. The rotator cuff is actually a collection of four muscles and their tendons—all of which wrap around the shoulder, providing support and stability. Joint pain and inflammation in the rotator cuff region can be both painful and debilitating due to the fact that the shoulder plays such a key role in weightlifting.
Injuries to the rotator cuff can occur as the result of trying to lift too much weight or using poor technique. Repetitive arm movements can increase the likelihood of rotator cuff injury. Common movements that lead to rotator cuff injuries include dips, the shoulder press, lateral raises and the bench press. Adding some rotator cuff exercises to your weekly routine should help.
Regardless of the cause and whether it’s the result of an isolated injury or a chronic condition, recovery from joint pain and inflammation generally requires time and rest. Ice packs and ibuprofen can help reduce the pain and swelling but they won’t speed up the healing process. As difficult as it may be, the best treatment for joint pain and inflammation is rest because otherwise, you run the risk of exacerbating the injury and making it worse.
Now if you’re like me when the doctor says, “Don’t workout anymore and take a rest for a few months until it feels better“, you’re thinking to yourself…..Ya right! I’m not some regular guy that works out once in a while, this is a major part of my life and I can’t stay on the sideline that long and lose all my progress.
Besides rest and avoiding activities that cause the pain, here are some other things you can try that have worked for me in the past.
1. Try this cream called, “Rub On Relief“: It has 8 homeopathic ingredients including belladonna, menthol, ingatia, msm, rhus tox, phosporous, naja, and lachesis mutus. It’s natural and not only covers the pain but helps heal it. It doesn’t smell and it doesn’t burn or freeze your skin. There are no side effects and you can read all about the ingredients here. This is way better than the sports creams you find at CVS and blows Tiger Balm out of the water if you’ve ever used that.
2. If you have the funds you can get a massage, get chiropractic adjustments and go visit a physical therapist to perform rehab exercises. These things work, but the downside is that they are expensive and eat up a lot of your time.
If you’re looking for a home-made way to, “take care of this yourself” without spending a ton of money you should check out my friend Jedd Johnson’s, “Fix Your Elbow Pain” eBooks. Jedd is a professional grip strength competitor. He bends nails, and rips decks of cards and that sort of thing. The point is, he has had his fair share of elbow and forearm pain due to a variety of reasons and has put together a package full of useful stretches, exercises and massage techniques you can use to get rid of the pain and not only cover the symptoms but cure the root issue.
Throughout the manual each exercise comes with illustrations and guidance for volume and frequency of training. It’s a done for you solution.
If you’re healthy now, that’s great. The best thing you can do about these issues is try to prevent them in the first place. Jedd’s Fixing Elbow Pain package includes an ebook all about prevention measures you can use including warm ups that get blood flowing to the entire body, teaching you about warning signs so you don’t push too hard, and some quick things you can do after your workouts to speed up recovery.
Here are 2 more quick tips for you. First and foremost, use proper form when lifting weights, using slow, controlled movements. Rapid, jerky movements significantly increase the chances that you’ll injure yourself, resulting in joint pain or inflammation.
In addition, make sure you’re getting enough healthy fats in your diet. Bodybuilders that go on prolonged, extremely low-fat diets have a high risk of joint injury. This is because fats provide some of the cushion in our joints—take away all of the fat and you eliminate important lubrication and cushion. Follow these steps and you’ll reduce the likelihood that you’ll suffer from joint point and inflammation.
If you have any other tips or advice for those of suffering from joint pain and inflammation please share below. Thanks.
Ben Tatar represented Critical Bench.com at the 2012 Arnold Sports Festival. Below I ask him a few questions about the trip and share some of his pics.
CB: What was different or better about this year’s Arnold?
BT: The night life was better this year. At night I hung out with celebrities, NFL players, the Bengals Cheerleaders (including my good friend from the Bengals, Alyson Jordan) and there was a million different things to do all at once. There were also new things to attend like the Lexen Xtreme Powerlifting Competition. Crowd control was better this year and my relationships with the people I know have grown.
CB: What was the big event from the Arnold that people couldn’t stop talking about at the after parties?
BT: It seemed like everyone who went to Party with the Pro’s competed in some event and did very well. Most people had their own success stories to share and celebrate! It’s always good seeing people from all over the world at the Arnold. The world is pretty big, and it’s a good place for people to unite.
CB: List some of the celebrity stars who were at this year’s Arnold.
BT: Some of the big name celebrity superstars that were at this year’s Arnold were Carmen Electra, Randy Couture, Chuck Norris, Mario Lopez (from Saved by the Bell,) Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Angle, Rob Gronkowski, Matt Hughes, Rob Terry, Buster Douglas (who beat Mike Tyson), Roy Jones Jr., Larry Fitzgerald, Brian Shaw, Frankie Edgar, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Ronnie Coleman, Sean Sherk, The Incredible Hulk, Mark Henry, and Alyson Jordan. There were more, I just listed 20 that came to mind. It’s been cool getting to work and party with the stars.
CB: Lots of celebrities. Any new faces that were a big hit with the crowds?
BT: Lexi Kaufman–Lexi Kaufman is a magazine cover model. She was also a very well liked booth girl and is constantly making headlines as a professional competitor. At the Arnold she won 1st in Bikini class A.
Amanda Adams–Amanda Adams is constantly making magazine headlines and she is a booth girl star at every expo from FIBU in Germany to the Olympia in Vegas. Amanda is always a delight and she comes to every event with her A-Game.
Tiffany Tillinger— Tiffany won Brian Cannone’s Fitness Atlantic competition, and she now she is also a BSN Allstar! I have known Tiffany for many years, and it has been great watching her rise to the top! Special shout out to her husband Sean Larson who I previously interviewed.
Heather Morris–Heather works every event from conventions to the Super Bowl. She is on many different TV shows (ranging from Bikini Destinations to various TV shows on Spike.) She can be found in many different magazines and on different magazine covers.
Shiloe Steinmetz–I have seen Shiloe at all the big events over the last few years. Shiloe has 25 titles under his belt ranging from various regional titles all the way to two-time Team Universe Heavyweight National Champion. Also, I want to give a shout out to the girls who worked with him, April Lynn and Holly Schrader who work for different big companies every year and who worked with Shiloe this year.
Jenna Renne Webb–Jenna is constantly making magazine covers. She has become so popular that every company wants her to work for them. Jenna is one of the most loved Diva’s in modern day fitness. It was great seeing her again.
Miss USA, Marie Lynn–Marie Lynn has just won Miss Connecticut USA. It was good seeing her.
Sean Sherk–I interviewed Sean Sherk when he became the FIRST ever UFC Light weight champion! Sean was with Carmen Electra at the Arnold, and he will go down as one of the greatest wrestling champions in UFC history. Check out our interview.
Alyson Jordan–The Bengals got voted as the hottest Cheerleaders in the NFL (Over the Dallas Cow-girls) and of all the Bengal Cheerleaders, she was selected to be on the Bengals calendar cover. We have have become great friends, and she was the judge of the cheer leading competition. She is always traveling and doing media and charity extravaganzas. We partied every night.
Brad “the Wolverine” Dunn–Brad “the Wolverine” Dunn is one of the best strongman competitors in the world. He is a member of Natural Freak and is respected in the United States, Europe and all over the world.
Mary Schmitt–Mary and I go way back. I helped her get started in the industry years back when she did booth work with Muscle Werks. She is now a sponsored athlete who is doing interviews with Absolute Fuel. She has really made it big and her fan base is now huge!
Chanel Jones–Chanel Jones interviews hardcore athletes. She also works with Bad Ass Nutrition with Carmen Electra.
Rob Terry–When it comes to modern day professional Wrestling Entertainment, Rob Terry is a genetic freak.
Santana Anderson–Santana Anderson is constantly winning professional bodybuilding competitions all over Canada. He worked the Arnold with Fusion nutrition with rising star Jaclyn Wilson.
The Arnold had lots of rising stars and famous celebrities. It also had lots of greats in the industry whom I’ve known for a long time. People like Mindi Smith who has won Critical Bench Diva search competitions and then went on to do well in Miss Olympia competitions. There’s Courtney Hodges who was a Maxim model and now does lots of charity events. She has been a successful spokesperson for Met-RX throughout the years. Another example is Jeremy Hoornstra who dominates the bench press every single year and is a draw every single year. It has been good knowing so many people, who have not only succeeded at their passions but also have depth as people.
CB: Who got the “freak” award?
BT: There was powerlifter Ed Russ who is 5’11 and over 400lbs. This man has squatted well over 1000 pounds and he was the thickest freak there by far.
Another was Brian Shaw. He is 6’9 and 460lbs. He also won the 2011 World’s Strongest Man competition. Shaw was the biggest person there of over 100,000 athletes height and weight wise. He was also the 2011 World’s strongest man champion. To put it in perspective, Shaw is bigger than the Big Show from the WWE. Shaw is 25 pounds heavier than the Big Show, two inches shorter, much leaner and over twice as strong! Shaw is the world’s largest athlete.
Then there were other freaks walking around with their whole faces tattooed, anything is possible at the Arnold!
CB: What was the expo area like this year?
BT: Well, every aisle you walk down is a surprise. You never know what talent or friend you will see next. Everyday there’s different people, and there are always extravaganza’s going on from the Animal Cage (where people get to lift with the best in the world) to the main Expo stage (where different competitions from strongman to ping pong are going on throughout the day). There are just millions of different things going on, and I’m just happy to be connected to it all! It was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to next time and I hope everyone works hard for the 2013 Arnold–The Arnold’s 25th Anniversary