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Without Strong Joints You Can Forget About Building Muscle

We have a problem in the fitness community with compartmentalisation. We like to treat our bodies as if we can break them down into separate components that all act independently of each other. 

You see this all the time in advertising. If you want strong bones, you have to drink milk. If you’re after big muscles, then you need to eat steak and skinless chicken breast. If you want to eat a bodybuilder diet, you have to keep a close eye on your “macros,” making sure you get a certain percentage of your calories from protein, carbs and fat. The list goes on and on. 

This mode of thinking comes out of something called “reductionism.” It’s the idea that we can break reality down into smaller and smaller components and test the effect of them individually. Scientists, for instance, often try to isolate individual molecules from plant foods and then feed them in mice to measure the “independent” effect of the substance on their metabolism. 

The problem with this approach, however, is that the real world isn’t nearly as reductionistic as people imagine. When researchers feed mice these isolated substances, they rarely experience the same effects as when they eat the original food item. Often, they don’t experience any of the predicted benefits at all, proving that we need to change our conceptions radically. Individual compounds are important, but what matters most is eating them in combination. Antioxidants in berries are great, but eating the whole berry is better. 

When it comes to our bodies, we have a similar tendency to view them in a reductionistic way. We isolate particular muscles in our workouts and imagine that our physique is somehow the result of building muscle rather than the whole system that makes extra muscle mass possible. 

Another inseparable component of the system is our joints: the collection of sinews and bone that our muscles lever when they contract. Without healthy joints, you can forget about building new muscle – it won’t happen. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the strategies that you can use to build tendons, ligaments and bones so that you can support your muscle-building aspirations. Take a look at the following tips. 

Sit Less

Sitting is associated with early death, so it’s something that you’ll want to avoid as much as you can. But there’s another reason: it’s not great for your joints. Research suggests that excessive sitting can have adverse effects on the lower back, the hips, the knees and the pelvis. 

While some sitting is inevitable in the modern world, there are plenty of things that you can do to reduce your exposure. 

The first is to get a standing desk. While they might look a little strange, they’re actually really good for people who have office-based jobs and don’t have the opportunity to move around as much as they would like. 

You don’t have to stand up the entire time, either, if you don’t want. Most standing desk models come with pneumatic height adjust, allowing you to raise and lower them, whenever you want. 

Second, try standing up every 45 minutes or so and doing some bodyweight squats. Research shows that simple exercises like this help to undo the damage that excessive sitting can cause. 

Do Exercises That Target The Joints

Heavy exercises like deadlifts, squats and chest press all put tremendous pressure on the joints, frequently leading to injury if you go too heavy, too fast. Fortunately, there are a variety of exercises that increase joint strength. 

Many athletes have found that by doing yoga poses for stronger knees, they feel more confident when lifting heavier weights. What’s more, they’re also able to accelerate more explosively when sprinting or jumping. Strengthening the joints gives you more confidence to use all of the power your muscles can generate. 

Start Walking Barefoot

Most of us wear shoes all day long, except perhaps while we’re curled up on the sofa. Walking in shoes, however, isn’t natural. We only started doing it relatively recently in our evolutionary history, meaning that our bodies have not yet had time to adapt to them. Decades of walking in shoes can lead to muscular imbalances, hip problems, and issues with gait. 

In recent years, however, we’ve seen an explosion in the popularity of barefoot walking and running. The idea here is to use your body’s natural movement patterns instead of those foisted on your body by shoes. Investigators have found that people who skip wearing shoes for walks and runs enhances the stabiliser muscles in their feet, adding strength to their joints. 

Of course, going barefoot is dangerous. You might step on something sharp. Fortunately, you can now buy shoes that deform to the natural shape of your foot while still providing you with protection. 

Eat Foods That Stimulate Collagen Production

Most of the tissue in your muscles and joints are made of collagen. It seems logical, therefore, to supplement with the compound to top up any deficiency. 

Unfortunately, when you take collagen orally, it can’t get to the sites in the body where it can do benefit. Instead, the kidneys and stomach process and remove it, without having a chance to impart its favourable effects. 

You don’t have to supplement collagen, however, to get more of the stuff in your body. Instead, all you have to do is eat foods which stimulate collagen products, like dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed and berries. By eating these foods, you send signals to your body’s cells to produce more collagen, helping to make your joints stronger and more supple. 

Stretch Regularly

Finally, regular stretching is a powerful way to build strength in your joints. Stretching stimulates the ligaments and tendons helps them to become more elastic over time, making them more resistant to injury. There are loads of free resources online that teach you how to stretch correctly. A good stretching session twice per week will help to improve the strength of your joints and allow you to push your fitness to the next level. 

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Owner of Personal Trainer, Father and fitness copy writer. Working hard making the world fitter and healthier!

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