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Addressing joint pain

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By AJ (R.I.P)

Something I have noticed on the boards over the years is the posts that deal with injury are lacking in any discussion about adhesions, muscle imbalances, scar tissue and the overall etiology of the dysfunction of the affected part of the anatomy.

Many times I have read people post up how they have some joint related ailment or some pain issue in a particular part of their body. Many times I have seen the standard replies of "try some deca" or "GH would help" or even better is the recommendation of aflutop or adequan.
Its not that these supplements dont have their place in repair and healing of cartilaginous tissue and some validity with addressing the integrity of joint structures, they do. But like taking an analgesic they are temporary relief at best.

What good are all these remedies if the underlying root cause of the problem is still there?

Again...temporary relief.

I think most of us want to solve our problems with pain issues more permanently. Think about how much valuable, limited time is lost to nagging imbalances and pain issues. How much time off is wasted to let these nagging problems heal only to have the same ones come back and back again?

The first thing we have to understand is how muscles interact around the joints. Its a very ingenious method nature came up with to balance out the joint structure.
You have two or more muscle groups that work in an antagonistic fashion with each other.
Antagonistic muscles are found in pairs called antagonistic pairs. These consist of an extensor muscle, which "opens" the joint (i.e. increasing the angle between the two bones), flexor muscle, which does the opposite to an extensor muscle.
Antagonistic pairs are needed in the body because muscles can only exert a pulling force, and can't push themselves back into their original positions. An example of this kind of muscle pairing is the biceps and triceps.

When the biceps are contracting, the triceps are relaxed, and stretches back to its original position. The opposite happens when the triceps contract.

So, you can imagine with your muscles working in this fashion there is a balance around the joint that has to be maintained.
Anything that throws this balance out is going to be the beginning of potential problems for joint stability.

The odd thing is the one thing that we do to make muscles grow is also the same thing that plants the seeds for problems. We train hard, we break down muscle tissues, and the body floods the area with inflammation and repairs the tissue but in doing so over time begins to cause muscle adhesions.
These adhesions limit the muscles flexibility and range of motion and shorten the lengthening of the muscle during the stretch portion and making it contract and pull harder on its relative antagonist. Now these muscles which are supposed to maintain a balance pull the joint out of its natural positioning and alignment.

When a joint becomes unstable, the articulating bones move against one another in a compromised way. This may mean that the motion is restricted; wearing one part of the joint cartilage more or the instability could allow the joint to move in abnormal ranges of motion causing the joint surface to wear prematurely. Wear and tear of the surface of bones is called (osteo) arthritis. Prolonged muscular imbalance accelerates the development of osteoarthritis and pain issues.

Regular and repeated friction can cause micro tears and will cause the tendons to become irritated and start an inflammatory response (tendonitis). Tendons heal very slowly but there are many effective therapies to support recovery. Tendon damage is often a later consequence of poor ergonomics and consistent abuse.

In my view this is where 90% of the joint issues people post up about come from. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation about joint related problems and our drug culture mentality that the forums have evolved has a "just take this" kind of mentality about treatment.

The underlying cause must be addressed.

For example a common problem you hear people post about is tendonitis of the elbow, there are two major kinds of this tendonitis. Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and medial epicondylitis (golfers elbow).

Now listen to most trainees when they get these conditions of the elbow. Most will blame pressing exercises for the problem, understandably this is the usual type of exercise they will feel the pain when lifting.

But the reality of the situation is the underlying culprit is the forearms, most people experience the lateral version of this malady. It is actually an imbalance from an over use of the flexors (the muscles that close the hand) and a weakness of the extensors (the muscles that open the hand).
Now remedying the problem is a simple strengthening of the extensors and stretching of the flexors, within weeks most trainees can begin to get some relief.

But there's more to it than that, you have to identify the exercises that are causing the problems, for a lot of people its heavy pulling motions like those of the chin up or heavy pull down, so for a time those exercises must be put aside, maybe for rows or a reverse grip style exercise as an alternative.
So rehabilitation of the joint as you can see plays a substantial role in re-attaining joint stability and pain free training.

Once these issues are resolved one must learn to maintain the health of the musculature around the affected area. Stretching and icing to release and reduce inflammation are two things that must be done on a regular basis.

Most of us who have been training hard for 10 years or longer have inflicted a great deal of trauma that have caused tiny tears in some of the small muscle fibers called fibrils and lots of them.
Each of these fibrils will remain shortened leaving the muscle slightly shorter and tighter If the body does not recover from this, more and more fibrils will be affected and the muscle will get shorter and tighter still.

This is a natural process our bodies do to ensure healing, you must learn your bodies muscle groups and educate yourself on how to maintain the muscle balances, taking care of these muscle adhesions is one of the major ways to allow your training to be maximized and not sidelined.
There are many supplements you can use as well.

Bromelaine
Turmeric
Glucosamine
MSM
DMSO
CoQ0
Vitamin C
Cissus Quadrangularis
Magnesium

Active Release Therapy is also an effective treatment for scar tissue adhesions, breaking the adhesions by a combination of massage therapy and moving the affected joint though its range of motion, its a little expensive for those of us on a limited budget but I can tell you from my own personal experience its highly effective for extreme adhesion and imbalance issues.

The bottom line is look into solving the issues permanently and getting yourself back into the gym and your training at its max without the hinderence of pain and grind of imbalance issues.
 
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