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The Fit 5: Joint Pain & Weakness

Our fitness expert answers your questions about coping and training with joint problems.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Facebook Page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen.

This week, Michael Camp, DPT, C.S.C.S., PES, and co-founder of My Competitive Life answers questions about coping with and training around joint pain and weaknesses.

1) Protecting Joints — asked by Cory Barner

What can you do to protect your joints when lifting heavy weight? How can I strengthen them?

“Strengthening your joints will happen with correct lifting technique and gradually increasing your weights over a period of time. This will help build up tendon and ligament strength, which will increase the stability of your joints and prevent injuries.”

2) Bench Press Shoulder Pain — asked by Dave Jones

When I bench anything more than 205 lbs.. or clean and press more than 185 lbs., I get intense shoulder pain in my right shoulder, I believe it's bursitis, but is there any way to treat or cure that?

"First off, you want to make sure you have no tear in your rotator cuff muscles if you are experiencing intense pain. Once ruled out, perform exercises to strengthen your rotator cuff. Exercises such as lying on your side with a d/b, or using a cable or theraband, keeping your elbow at your side and rotating your hand away from your body. Also, increasing posterior capsule mobility by performing a 'sleeper stretch' will help decrease tightness and pain in your shoulder. And finally make sure your form is correct when lifting."

3) Runner Ankle Pain — asked by Marco Garcia

I have a small bump in my ankle where my tendon and muscle connects. It doesn't bother me, but when I run my lower leg muscle stiffens and it stops me. What is it?

"You didn’t mention if it was on the inside or outside of the ankle, but most runners often develop a mass on the tibialis anterior tendon. The bump often increases in size during or following activity. With rest and ice, it will decrease. If the bump persists, you may want to see a physician to get an X-ray or MRI. Stiffness in the calf or anterior tibialis is due to fatigue or muscle tightness. A fast way to get rid of this is to foam roll your calves and shins before beginning your run."

4) Anti-inflammatory Relief — asked by Anthony Delarosa

Is it okay that I usually just take ibuprofen to handle the joint pain in my knees, ankles and feet when jogging? Or am I damaging my feet by ignoring the problem?

"Taking ibuprofen to handle joint pain is not a good idea. It will only mask pain. Cell damage due to strenuous running is still occurring and if pain is blocked or minimized, potential for greater injury is high. Another potential risk with ibuprofen is exertional hyponatremia, which will lead to poor fluid transport and dehydration and possible kidney failure. If you have problems with your feet, strengthen your entire leg muscles, starting with your glutes, hamstrings, quads and ankle to provide a better balance of muscles being utilized during your run."

5) Bench Press Wrist Pain — asked by Rob Guicho

Why does my wrist hurt when I bench heavy weight?

“Wrist pain with benching can be caused by the way you are holding the bar. Make sure the bar is placed in the palm of your hand and not at the base of the fingers. If the bar is not in the right position, it will force your wrist to bend backwards, placing excessive stress on your tendons and bones of your hand causing pain. Your wrists need to remain in a neutral straight strong position and holding the bar deep in your palms will help maintain this! Also, strengthen your wrists by performing gripping and forearm exercises."

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