Why Strength Training Can Cure Joint Pain
“I’ve had zero back pain since I started Strength Training one month ago.”
Brandon told me this just this morning. After 1 month! His body is already changing. He’s leaner, way stronger, and more muscular. Clearly it’s working.
But the best part is that the back pain he experienced on a regular basis is completely gone.
After something like 12 workouts! That’s insane!
It’s insane. But it’s also ridiculous just how common statements like these are.
Another client we train in the mornings has had neck pain for YEARS! Nothing fixed it. Despite trying a dozen different solutions.
Then she started strength training and within a few months her neck pain was completely gone and hasn’t been a problem since.
We’ve seen this happen with Ankles. Knees. Hips. Backs. Shoulders. And Necks.
To be honest this is part of the reason I quit Physical Therapy School to run my gym full time back in 2016. I saw a need that I could help fix!
We need great Physical Therapists! But to be honest, if people would just learn to strength train with good form MOST of their problems would go away. And we’d have great Physical Therapists for the problems that don’t go away!
But seriously, Strength Training is as close to a magic pill as you can get.
So Today I'm going to tell you WHY Strength Training Can Cure Joint Pain
When most people think of strength training they think of building bigger muscles. Which is 100% true. It’s a major benefit of strength training. But it’s only one of the many benefits.
Your joint pain improves because of stronger muscles, increased mobility, and better movement patterns.
Stronger muscles don’t just look great (that’s what give us that lean, toned, defined look we want). Stronger muscles alleviate pressure from the surrounding joints!
When a muscle is nice and strong as it should be, the muscles themselves do the vast majority of the work and absorb a lot of the force that the joint would otherwise be forced to take on. That’s why stronger thighs and glutes can improve knee and hip pain. Stronger thighs and core muscles can improve back pain. And stronger chest, shoulder, arm, and upper back muscles can improve neck and shoulder pain. Building stronger muscles makes the surrounding joints happy!
Strength Training is like the ultimate stretch. We’re taking the body through a full range of motion AND we’re loading it. While we always take time to warm up and do some stretching before we lift, the workouts themselves are even more effective than the warm-ups are at improving your range of motion.
Most people we work with are pretty tight. Especially in the legs, lower back, chest, neck, and shoulders. But after several weeks of doing some very basic strength training movements with light loads their range of motion increases a LOT!
The increased mobility also allows the body to move the way it’s supposed to (instead of having to compensate for tight muscles) which alleviates pressure from the joints.
Better Movement Patterns
When we Strength Train, all we’re doing is adding load to basic human movements. Which means every time we workout we’re practicing the basic movements we do all the time!
Some of the basic human movements we do are:
Push (vertical and horizontal)
Pull (vertical and horizontal)
When Strength Training we do these movements with great form and with a challenging load. This builds muscle, improves mobility, AND improves our movement pattern.
You can think of improving movement pattern like this…
A strong muscle allows you to move more weight.
More mobility allows you to put your body into more/better positions.
Improving your body’s movement pattern is simply using your strong muscles and increased mobility to properly do those basic movements with load. Doing these movements properly allows you to continue to build muscle and improve range of motion while also improving balance, coordination, etc. as well as strengthening all the smaller stabilizer muscles that are so important in lifting AND in our every day life.
Something I realized during Physical Therapy School is that while it’s very good to know the isolated functions of each muscle…in the real world the muscles rarely (if ever) work in isolation. They work as part of the whole team! So yes, it’s good to know each muscles’ isolated function but it’s JUST AS important to know how they function as a whole.
And THIS is why Strength Training is so beneficial. Getting strong with proper form on the basic human movements (Squat, Deadlift, Press, etc.) can be Rehab/Prehab.
Again, I’m not saying we don’t need Physical Therapists. There are many problems that a PT can solve that Strength Training (or at least strength training alone) won’t solve.
HOWEVER if you don’t have anything majorly wrong, sometimes all your achey knees, sore neck, and tight back need….is some good ol’ strength training.