Joint Injuries and Strength Training

The Boring Stuff: Anatomy

There are a few different types of joint types in the body. The two most common types of joints that get  injured are hinge joints (ankles, wrists, elbow, and knee) and ball and socket joints (hip and shoulder).

These joints are exactly as they sound. A hinge joint is a meeting between two bones with one sitting on the other. These are generally held in place with a series of ligaments and muscles. A ball and socket
joint contains two parts: ball on the end of one bone sitting in a cup at the end of another bone.

A ball and socket joint is held in place with a series of ligaments, muscles and a labrum which is a sort of a pocket.

Even More Boring Stuff? Really?: Biomechanics

Now that we have a handle on how the joints are shaped and held together, lets get into how they work.

Our bodies are built to optimize movement speed and range of motion, which sacrifices strength. Let’s think about a see saw, or a teeter totter for a second. To optimize the speed of movement on a see saw, a force should be applied close to the center. The closer to the center of the see saw the force is applied the faster the opposite side will move, but a lot more force has to be applied.

Our muscles create the force across the joints and are much closer to the joint on the moving bone. This means they must create a much higher force than the weight acting against them. Because of this, the strain across the joints when running, jumping, and any other movement is increased.

Why do Joint Injuries Happen?

Injuries happen when the force created at a joint exceeds what the joint can handle. This could be due to muscular deficiencies, or an impact in an angle or plane that is not well supported by the structures around the joint.

Our joints will always be “weak” because of the movement speed and range of motion advantage and force production disadvantage of their structures.

How do You Prevent Joint Injuries?

Joint injuries cannot be entirely prevented. The risk of joint injuries can, however, be reduced. This is done by strength training. This increases the stability of the joints by increasing the support provided by the surrounding structures.

Strengthening the rotator cuff and deltoids can reduce the risk of shoulder injuries, strength training the biceps, triceps, and forearms might reduce the risk of elbow injuries, etc.

Training these muscles in a slow, controlled manor also could reduce the risk of injuries by reducing the external force on the joints.

Strength training with machines may also decrease the risk of injury by following a natural range of motion and being more stable.

Strength Training After a Joint Injury

After an injury, strength training is important. In most cases one or more of the tendons connecting the muscles around each joint and the ligaments connecting the joint will be stretched, damaged, or torn.  With ball and socket joints, the labrum also has a possibility of being injured.

The surrounding structures need to be strengthened following an injury whether or not your particular injury requires surgery to repair. Proper progression and adjustments will need to be made to accommodate your injury, but a proper strength training program in conjunction with your prescribed rehabilitation will not only improve your joint health, and it might just make you feel better!

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to one of our team members!