Safe Strategies for Lifting Weights & Bodybuilding with Arthritis

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It is a common misconception that individuals who have been diagnosed with arthritis should not participate in strenuous athletic activities and strength-building exercises. Many people with arthritis are afraid to lift weights for fear that it will make joint pain worse and cause further joint damage. However, numerous studies have shown that strength training programs can actually help osteoarthritis sufferers reduce pain, improve limb functioning, and even lose weight to help take some of the strain off the joints.1,2,3

Here are some ways that bodybuilding can be used to help improve arthritis symptoms and a few exercises to try at home or in the gym.

Bodybuilding as a Tool to Manage Arthritis

Strength training exercises help to build up the muscles that support and protect the joints.4,5 By building up one’s muscles, it is possible to improve support of the joints and feel less pain over time. It is recommended to discuss a bodybuilding plan with a rheumatologist or physical therapist before starting a new workout to avoid potential injury.

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Workout Routines for People with Arthritis

When it comes to weightlifting, it is better for people with arthritis to do more repetitions with lighter weights rather than fewer repetitions with heavier weights.6 For the upper body, it is recommended to lift five to 10 percent of one’s body weight.

To work the leg muscles, lifting up to 25 percent of one’s body weight is recommended. Resistance bands with varying levels of elasticity are excellent alternatives to heavy machines weights for people with arthritis.

Great Lifts for People with Arthritis

Bicep curls with light dumbbells are great for arthritis sufferers because this exercise engages the arms, wrists, and fingers.7 This lift can also be done underwater with foam dumbbells. Straight leg lifts strengthen the quadriceps, and hamstring curls work the back sides of the legs to balance out the workout.

Single leg dips, squats, hamstring stretches, and stepping exercises are also great for people with arthritis to build up the muscles that support commonly affected joints. Also, work on knee and shoulder strengthening exercises with barbells or resistance bands because these are common sites of arthritis symptoms.

Exercises to Limit or Modify

Weightlifting should feel challenging but not exhausting, and about 20 to 30 minutes two or three times per week of lifting should be plenty to build up the muscles and joints in a healthy way.4 Plyometrics8 and CrossFit style exercises are great ways to get the body moving and work up a sweat, but they aren’t necessarily ideal for arthritis sufferers. Any exercises that involve extensive jumping and sustained high impact may be too much for compromised joints to handle. But with an experienced personal trainer, even high-intensity exercises and lifts can be modified for arthritis patients.

Post-Exercise Arthritis Relief

After exercise, individuals with arthritis may experience a temporary surge in pain until the joints have adjusted to a new workout routine. Try applying JointFlex to where it hurts to reduce stiffness and limit the amount of recovery time needed before the next workout session. A bit of soreness after working out is normal, but stretching before and after weightlifting can help reduce these sensations. Arthritis sufferers should listen to their bodies and take a day or two off from lifting if pain persists or switch to gentle forms of exercise, such as walking or swimming, on off days.

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1. Latham, N. & Liu, C. (2010 August). Strength training in older adults: The benefits for osteoarthritis. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 26, 445-459. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information
2. Vincent, K. R. & Vincent, H. K. (2012 May). Resistance exercise for knee osteoarthritis. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 4, S45-S52. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information
3. DeVries, C. (2015 July 6). Strength training can crush arthritis pain. Veritas Health. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from
4. Bartlett, S. Role of exercise in arthritis management. Arthritis Center at Johns Hopkins. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from
5. Strength training builds more than muscles. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from
6. Weight training 101. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from
7. Melone, L. 3 Simple Weightlifting Moves. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from
8. Body weight exercises. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from

How Turf Toe Affects More Than Just Football Players

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Turf toe is a condition most often associated with football players, but it can actually affect athletes who play many other sports too. Turf toe involves a ligament sprain in the big toe joint,1,2 which means that gymnasts, dancers, soccer players, wrestlers, basketball players, and other athletes are also susceptible to this injury.

This type of sprain can be very mild or severe enough to take an athlete out of the game, so it’s important to catch the symptoms early to let the healing process begin. The purpose of this article is to dispel the myth that turf toe is strictly a football injury and how other athletes can recognize and treat this condition as well.

Causes of Turf Toe

Athletes put an incredible amount of strain on the joints of their toes. The big toe joint is utilized to allow vertical motion and functions as a hinge. There are bones in the tendon of the ball of the foot behind the big toe joint that facilitate movement of the big toe joint. In many different sports, athletes push off from their big toes to propel themselves forward. With the forefoot fixed on the ground and the heel raised, turf toe injuries occur when the big toe is hyperextended.

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These types of injuries are often caused on artificial surfaces, such as turf because these surfaces often do not absorb shock well and are harder. However, turf toe can also occur on grass if an athlete is wearing unsupportive shoes.

Symptoms of Turf Toe in Athletes

Turf toe injuries typically cause immediate pain in the toe joint. Within a short amount of time, the big toe may swell, and the athlete may experience limited joint movement at the base.3 Some athletes who suffered a turf toe injury actually hear a popping sound in their toe when it is overextended.4

The Importance of Treating Turf Toe Early

As with most sports-related injuries, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of turf toe as early as possible.5 While the condition is still minor, simple rest and ice can help restore the toe joint to its normal level of functioning.

However, the symptoms of turf toe tend to get worse with time, especially if it is caused by an injury of repetitive motion. Physicians diagnose turf toe after a foot examination and x-ray, perhaps followed by a CT scan or MRI if necessary.1

Treatment Suggestions for Turf Toe

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is the best recipe for treating turf toe because this combination allows the joint to heal and regain full range of motion.1,4,5 Powerful pain relief creams, like JointFlex, can be rubbed into the big joint for immediate and long-lasting relief. Over-the-counter oral medications may help reduce pain and inflammation as well. In more severe cases, the use of crutches, physical therapy, or surgery may be discussed.

Turf Toe Prevention Tips

Even after beginning a treatment plan for turf toe, it is important to determine why it happened in the first place to prevent it from recurring. For athletes that play their sports on artificial surfaces rather than dirt or grass, it is important to wear soft and flexible shoes designed for this purpose.6 Certain athletic shoes provide reduced forefoot stability to prevent turf toe without sacrificing agility.

It is also recommended to stretch and bend the toes before exercise to prevent injury. For further prevention, a sports medicine specialist may be able to recommend tips related to performance or gait that will help keep the toes safe and healthy.

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1. Turf toe. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from–conditions/turf-toe/.
2. Turf toe. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
3. Stewart, G. W. (2016 June 3). Turf toe symptoms. Sports Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
4. Turf toe. Sports Physical Therapy. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
5. Stewart, G. W. (2016 June 3). Turf toe treatment. Sports Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
6. Haddad, A. (2016 June 16). Are you at risk for a turf toe injury? Sports Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from

Can Gel Shoe Inserts Help Prevent Joint Pain and Arthritis?

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Many pharmacies, supermarkets, and health stores carry a wide variety of products to place inside of shoes for extra comfort and cushioning. These include gel inserts, insoles, pads, and targeted cushions that can be worn with a wide variety of shoes. Foot support can be taken a step further by ordering custom-made orthotics from a physician. For active individuals, gel inserts are commonly used in athletic shoes to replace or supplement the thin shoe lining that is provided by the manufacturer.

However, the research has been mixed as to whether these types of shoe products can actually protect someone from developing joint issues later in life. So, here is some information about whether gel shoe pads can able to help alleviate and prevent the symptoms of joint pain and arthritis.

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What Gel Inserts Do

The purpose of the gel in a shoe insert is to add extra cushioning to prevent the foot and toes from rubbing up against a shoe in a painful way. Certain insert products also claim to help correct high arches, low arches and soothe painful foot conditions like plantar fasciitis.1,2,3

By using gel or soft foam materials, insoles may help with shock absorption as well. They are favored by people who work long hours on their feet or stand for long periods of time throughout the day.

Gel Pads and Knee Pain

But despite all of these promising benefits, studies have shown that insoles are not effective in treating or preventing knee pain associated with osteoarthritis.4,5 One particular study investigated lateral wedge insoles designed for knee osteoarthritis that affects the inner region of the knee.5 Hundreds of participants were asked to try the insoles and a vast majority did not report a significant decrease in their pain. However, everyone’s knee pain is different and some types could stand to benefit from customized insoles.

Gel Cushions and Foot Pain

While shoe inserts have not proven to be overly effective in reducing or preventing knee pain and arthritis, they can be very effective in making the feet more comfortable.1 Foot pain is very common among patients with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.6,7,8 It is advised to have customized shoe inserts made so that they conform to the shape of one’s foot and correct the foot issue without creating a new one. Based on a Cochrane Review, custom-made orthotics were found to reduce foot pain in people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis as well.9 However, it should be noted at custom inserts often cost well in the hundreds of dollars and are not always covered by insurance.

Solutions for Athletic Shoes

The most important thing to remember when choosing a new pair of athletic shoes is to find ones that fit very well without the need for many modifications.10 Certain insole brands have over-the-counter products specifically designed for arthritis sufferers, and these may be worth trying. For foot and knee pain that is not resolved by using shoe inserts, it may help to massage a pain relief cream like JointFlex on the site of pain after wearing shoes all day. Unfortunately, wearing insoles is not a quick fix for arthritis pain, but they may be worth a try alongside other pain relief and preventative measures.

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1. Delzell, E. Feet hurt? Slip in some relief with shoe inserts. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
2. Plantar fasciitis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
3. Plantar fasciitis. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
4. Watson, S. (2013 August 21). Insoles no help for knee osteoarthritis. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
5. Parkes, M. J., Maricar, N., & Lunt, M. (2013 August). Lateral wedge insoles as a conservative treatment for pain in patients with medial knee osteoarthritis. JAMA, 310, 722-730. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
6. Arthritis & diseases that affect the foot. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
7. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra.
8. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Osteoarthritis (OA). Retrieved October 19, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/osteoarthritis-oa.
9. Hawke, F., Burns, J., Radford, J. A., & Du Toit, V. (2008 July 16). Custom‐made foot orthoses for the treatment of foot pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from
10. Find the best and worst shoes for arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 22, 2018 from

Why Athletes Are More Susceptible to Arthritis in Injury Zones

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A previous article discussed the ways that ex-athletes are more at risk of experiencing joint pain and how former sports professionals can find relief for the pain they’re feeling. To follow up on those key concepts, here is an explanation of how athletes who have experienced injuries that surround joints are more susceptible to joint pain and arthritis.

Vulnerability of Injured Joints

For the love and dedication to sports, athletes often tear ligaments and experience fractures that pass through joints and bruised cartilage. Ligament and bone damage affect the way that joints work, especially in overused joints like the wrists and knees.1

The repetitive movements of sports lead to physical stress and the erosion of cartilage. Over time, this erosion wears down the surfaces of joints and can cause inflammation and pain.2 Athletes who attempt to perform before properly building up their bodies are most at risk of damaging their joints during training.3,4

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Preventing Injuries to Prevent Arthritis

Although athletes tend to be more prone to developing osteoarthritis than their sedentary peers, being active in sports certainly doesn’t mean that arthritis is inevitable. In fact, athletic individuals are often the healthiest people on the planet with unparalleled energy, longevity, and overall wellness.5,6

However, one of the best ways to prevent future arthritis symptoms as an athlete is to do one’s best to prevent injuries at the present time. It is important for athletes to practice proper form and wear all recommended safety equipment during practices, performances, and games.7,8 Stretching and warming up before playing can prepare the muscles, ligaments, and tendons for competition and reduce the risk of injury.

Athletes who have suffered an injury must also take the time to fully heal their bodies back to a normal condition before returning to the game.3,4 Rushing back into a sport with an injury that is not properly healed could cause serious long-term damage. However, the physical, mental, and emotional effects of exercise are well-documented, so athletes should not be afraid to try new ways to get active in the meantime and keep their bodies moving.8

Targeted Relief for Injured Areas

Powerful joint pain relief creams like JointFlex are designed to relieve minor arthritis pain, as well as muscle sprains, strains, backaches, cramps, and bruises. These are all common parts of life for athletes, so it’s important to find a relief strategy that works quickly and on-target. It is recommended to use this medicated cream twice to four times daily in order to feel the pain subside within a matter of minutes. Athletes who have suffered an injury may also benefit from physical therapy, gentle massage, and a diet of anti-inflammatory foods to continue living healthy and active lives.

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1. Campagne, D. (2017 December). Overview of fractures. The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved November 11, 2018 from
2. Buckwalter, J. A. (2003 October). Sports, joint injury, and posttraumatic osteoarthritis. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 33, 578-588. Retrieved November 11, 2018 from
3. Kraemer, W., Denegar, C., Flanagan, S. (2009 September). Recovery from injury in sport: Considerations in the transition from medical care to performance care. Sports Health, 1, 392-395. Retrieved November 11, 2018 from National Center for Biotechnology Information
4. Sports injuries need time to heal before student athletes play again. Reid Health. Retrieved November 11, 2018 from
5. The benefits of playing sports aren’t just physical! Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved November 11, 2018 from
6. The health benefits of sport and physical activity. Retrieved November 11, 2018 from
7. Sports injury prevention tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
8. Treating sports injuries. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from

Are Ex-Athletes at a Higher Risk of Joint Pain Later in Life?

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When athletes are at the peak of their performance careers, the last things they think about are joint pain and long-term joint damage. It’s a common misconception that arthritis only affects the elderly, but athletes can be at a higher risk of developing arthritis conditions than the general population.

Although arthritis is most common in joints that have suffered one or more injuries, it can also occur in joints that have never experienced any damage at all. This is because regular and consistent wear and tear take its toll on certain joints more than others. This article will discuss whether ex-athletes are at a higher risk of developing joint pain and arthritis later in life, as well as how they can find relief from their pain.

The Connection Between Sports and Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation in a joint,1 and osteoarthritis is a common cause of joint pain among ex-athletes because of continuous wear and tear.2 Compared to the general population, athletes put additional strain on certain joints, depending on the sports they play. Certain sports, such as football, soccer, and gymnastics, are statistically more likely to result in arthritis later in life.3 However, other sports, like running, cycling, and swimming, are less likely to cause future joint pain because they are non-contact sports that often have a lesser risk of injury.

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Long-Term Damage from Injuries

Athletes who are more prone to injuries in the sports they play may also be more susceptible to joint pain and arthritis later in life. This can be true for both professional athletes and casual amateurs who suffer a serious injury with a lengthy rehabilitation process. To learn more about the risks for injury-prone athletes, read the article, “Why Athletes Are More Susceptible to Arthritis in Injury Zones.”

The Prevalence of Hip Arthritis Among Ex-Athletes

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that the test subjects, who were professional soccer players, were 10 times more prone to hip arthritis later in life than the average person even if they never suffered a hip injury.4 Not only are the hip joints prone to this type of long-term damage, but also other weight-bearing joints like the knees. This pain typically settles in several years after retiring from the sport, with a few of the ex-players needing hip replacement surgery in their 40s.

Pain Relief for Ex-Athletes

JointFlex is a powerful pain relieving cream that is designed for athletes in all stages of their careers and athletic retirement. It contains the active ingredient camphor, plus glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for skin conditioning. Research has proven that this is an effective combination because glucosamine is a component of joint cartilage, and chondroitin sulfate provides compression resistance for the cartilage.5 With continued use, studies have shown that a majority of people found long-term pain relief that continued to improve.

For other ex-athletes, physicians may recommend analgesics, opioids, acupuncture, braces, injections, or surgery. It is important to assess the level of pain and mobility in an ex-athletes affected joint and monitor it over time to adjust the treatment strategy accordingly.

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1. Arthritis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from
2. Pujalte, G. G. A. & Amoako, A. O. (2014 May 22). Osteoarthritis in young, active, and athletic individuals. Clinical Medicine Insights Arthritis Musculoskeletal Disorders, 7, 27-32. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from
3. Molloy, C. B. & Molloy, M. G. (2011). Contact sport and osteoarthritis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45, 275-277. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from
4. Drawer, S. & Fuller, C. W. (2001). Propensity for osteoarthritis and lower limb joint pain in retired professional soccer players. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 35, 402-408. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from
5. Hess, A. Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine supplements in osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from

Causes of Tennis Elbow and Other Athletes Also at Risk

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Contrary to popular belief, tennis players are not the only ones who can develop the painful condition known as tennis elbow. The medical term for this condition is lateral epicondylitis, and the condition results from inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm.1

These tendons and muscles can become damaged with prolonged and excessive use, or by simply repeating the same motions over and over again.2,3 Pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow are the most common symptoms, but athletes of all kinds may be able to avoid this discomfort and continue playing the sports they love.

Here is some useful information about the causes of tennis elbow, who is at risk of developing this injury, and how athletes can stay safe and reach their potential.

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Causes of Tennis Elbow

In the most basic sense, tennis elbow is caused by overuse of the elbow joints. Damage is typically caused to muscles in the forearm, such as the extensor carpi radialis brevis, which stabilizes the wrist when the elbow is straightened.4 If left untreated, tennis elbow not only causes pain but also weak grip strength that can affect all aspects of daily life.

Who Develops Tennis Elbow?

The sport of tennis requires constant use of the forearm and elbow, but many other sports require this type of repetitive stress too.1,2,3,4 Individuals who play other types of racket sports, like racquetball, use many of the same muscles as tennis players too. Also, swinging sports, like golf, baseball, and cricket, can lead to lateral epicondylitis. Athletes who participate in archery, martial arts, rowing, and rock climbing may also be at a higher risk.

Other non-athletes can be prone to tennis elbows such as painters, carpenters, musicians, and plumbers. Surveys have shown that automobile mechanics, chefs, and butchers suffer from tennis elbow more frequently than the general population as well due to the repetitive nature of these jobs. Individuals who are between the ages of 30 and 50 are most likely to develop tennis elbow.5

Preventing Tennis Elbow

Poor practices within these sports can lead to the development of this injury; however, athletes can make changes to prevent or delay the onset of tennis elbow.6 Athletes should receive proper and ongoing training to improve their swings, strokes, and motions. It is also important for athletes to practice extra care while lifting weights and doing strength training exercises to avoid unwanted pressure on the joints that may aggravate existing conditions like tennis elbow. Stretching and yoga can help warm up the muscles and joints to prepare them for strenuous exercise.

Soothing and Treating Tennis Elbow

Fortunately, between 80 and 95 percent of individuals with tennis elbow find success with nonsurgical treatments.3 Fast-acting arthritis pain relief creams like JointFlex can ease the discomfort of tennis elbow without a prescription. Other treatment options include wearing a brace at the back of the forearm, doing strengthening exercises with a physical therapist, and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin or ibuprofen.2

For severe cases of tennis elbow, steroid injections like cortisone and extracorporeal shock wave therapy may be explored. There are surgical options available, such as arthroscopic surgery and open surgery, but undergoing surgery could cause scar tissue that might be detrimental to an athlete’s performance and career. Athletes who experience persistent elbow pain should consult a physician to discuss recommended treatment options before the pain worsens.

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1. Liebert, P. L. (2018 June). Lateral epicondylitis. The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from
2. Tennis elbow. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from
3. Tennis elbow (Lateral epicondylitis). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from–conditions/tennis-elbow-lateral-epicondylitis/.
4. Tennis elbow – Lateral epicondylitis. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from,P00925.
5. Verma, N. N. (2015 January 30). Tennis elbow causes and risk factors. Sports Health. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from
6. Top 9 ways to help prevent tennis elbow. Newport Orthopedic Institute. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from

How to Alleviate Joint Pain Through Muscle Strengthening

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It is not possible for athletes to perform at their highest level while suffering from joint pain. Athletes put an incredible amount of strain on their joints, but the muscle-building exercises they do may actually be able to strengthen joints.

Here is some information about how muscle strengthening around the joints can help alleviate joint pain in athletes.

Connection Between Muscles & Joints

Not only is joint pain caused by an injury to the joint, but also to the tissues that surround it.1,2 When this happens, pain, stiffness, inflammation, and decreased the range of motion can occur. Joints are made up of bones that are connected by a tendon, and tissues support that connection. Ligaments connect muscles to the bones, so when one of these components is affected, they can all suffer.

Joints rely upon muscles to support them,3 so an athlete can help to support the joints by strengthening the muscles that surround them.4,5 After an injury, it is often recommended that athletes do muscle strengthening exercises to build up the range of motion and reduce pain symptoms.

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Joint Pain Regions for Athletes

The most common site of joint pain for athletes is the knees.6 However, shoulders, hips, fingers, and other joint regions can also be affected. Direct physical injury is not uncommon for athletes. But joint pain can also result from the onset of osteoarthritis and poor exercise technique.

Joint and Muscle Strengthening Exercises

It is important for athletes in any sport to engage in muscle strengthening exercises that have positive effects on the joints.4 This is crucial for a range of motion, longevity, and injury prevention. By simply stretching, an athlete can improve flexibility, reduce tension, and prepare the body for exercise.6,7

Here are some exercises that will aid in muscle strengthening that support key joints needed for athletic performance and can help alleviate joint pain.

Wall Squats for Knees

Athletes who suffer from joint pain in the knees can strengthen the muscles that support the knees with wall squats.8 To do this exercise, one should stand with the back against the wall and with the feet hip-width apart and about two feet out from the wall. Slide down the wall until a sitting position is reached. Hold this position for 10 seconds, slide back up, and repeat 10 times. Make sure that the knees do not extend over the toes, and hold the abdominal muscles tight.

Side Leg Raises for Hips

The hips are necessary for running, jumping, and many other athletic pursuits. Athletes can strengthen the hips and glutes by lying on one side with the legs stacked on top of each other.8 Lift the leg on top to about a 45-degree angle and then lower it to the ground. This exercise can be repeated 15 to 20 times on each side and increased as strength is built up.

Draw the Sword for Shoulders

Rotator cuffs are particularly problematic for athletes, and this “draw the sword” exercise can help strengthen the muscles that support shoulder joints.9 Hold a dumbbell in one hand and place it palm-down on the opposite thigh. With the arm straight, draw it across the body outwards and upwards to the opposite shoulder. Then return to the starting position and switch sides.

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1. Joint pain. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from
2. Villa-Forte, A. (2017 December). Joint pain: Single joint. The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/symptoms-of-musculoskeletal-disorders/joint-pain-single-joint.
3. Bones, muscles and joints. Healthdirect. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from
4. Lorenz, D. S. & Reiman, M. P. (2011 September). Integration of strength and conditioning principles in a rehabilitation program. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 6, 241-253. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information
5. How exercise helps your joints. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from
6. Villalobos, A. & Patel, D. R. (2017 July). Evaluation and management of knee pain in young athletes: overuse injuries of the knee. Translational Pediatrics, 6, 190-198. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information
7. Warm up, cool down and be flexible. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from
8. Bracilovic, A. (2011 June 14). Knee strengthening exercises. Arthritis Health. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from
9. Stankowski, J. Shoulder more weight. Men’s Journal. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from

Causes & Treatments of Osteoarthritis in Young Individuals

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Osteoarthritis is a condition that is typically associated with older adults whose bones and joints have begun to deteriorate with age.1,2 However, young adults can develop this condition as well, especially if they are very active in sports.3 These are the causes of osteoarthritis in young people, symptoms that parents should watch for, and possible treatment options to pursue in order to avoid long-term consequences.

Causes of Osteoarthritis in Young Individuals

Joint degeneration occurs in athletes and young individuals through damage to the articular cartilage caused by repetitive impact and loading.3 This damage often comes from high impact sports like football, soccer, and hockey.

Young athletes who suffer joint injuries, such as meniscus injuries of the knee and rotator cuff injuries of the shoulder, are more prone to developing osteoarthritis. More than 3.5 million children receive treatment for sports injuries each year.

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However, genetics also plays a role in the development of osteoarthritis.4 More than 50 percent of osteoarthritis cases result from a hereditary disposition, which means that playing sports is not always to blame. Young people who are overweight are also more prone to musculoskeletal disorders, and excessive force to an overweight youth’s joints could lead to osteoarthritis.5,6,7

Symptoms to Watch for in Youth

Since children and young adults may not understand what the symptoms of osteoarthritis mean when they feel them, it is important for parents to keep a close watch on the pain their children are feeling. Young people often have higher pain tolerance, which makes the diagnosis of osteoarthritis difficult or delayed.

Common symptoms include localized pain, reduced range of motion, stiffness, crepitation, and morphological deformities.8,9 Young adults are usually most affected by osteoarthritis in the hips, shoulders, and knees.

Treatment Options for Young Osteoarthritis Sufferers

There are several treatment options available for parents whose kids suffer from this illness. A major concern for youth and their parents are the implications of osteoarthritis later in life after an amateur sports career is over.

Short-term goals of treatment may be to restore optimal joint functioning and safely allow the young athlete to return to the sport. Long-term goals, however, should be to sustain the longevity of the affected joint so that an active lifestyle can be enjoyed for many years to come.

Regardless of age, the most recommended initial form of treatment for people with osteoarthritis is exercise.10 This may seem ironic for young athletes whose condition may have been caused by exercise in the first place. Ultimately, it’s important to teach children how to know when to rest and take a break from physical activity.

Physical therapy has helped many young people who have this condition, especially muscle strengthening, muscle stretching, and neuromuscular control exercises. Hot and cold application on the joint, massage, hydrotherapy, and range-of-motion exercises have also proven to be effective with young patients. Meanwhile, topical creams like JointFlex can instantly relieve pain and help youth get back to the activities they love.

Surgery may be recommended in very severe cases of osteoarthritis in children and teens. For example, Comprehensive Arthroscopic Management (CAM) has been for used advanced arthritis of the shoulder in young patients, and bone-preserving types of shoulder replacement surgeries have been used in very severe cases.11 Discuss all of these options with the youth’s doctor to determine the best course treatment based on age, body part, and severity.

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1. Osteoarthritis. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from,P00061.
2. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Osteoarthritis (OA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/osteoarthritis-oa.
3. Amoako, A. O. & Pujalte, G. G. A. (2014 May 22). Osteoarthritis in young, active, and athletic individuals. Clinical Medicine Insights: Arthritis Musculoskeletal Disorders, 7, 27-32. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information
4. Fernández-Moreno, M., Rego, I., Carreira-Garcia, V., & Blanco, F. J. (2008 December). Genetics in osteoarthritis. Current Genomics, 9, 542-547. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from National Center for Biotechnology Information
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