How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

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flying_pan
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How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by flying_pan » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:35 am

I was reading a bunch of forums of old people (like regularly retired at 60+) and a lot of them complain that they can't really do as much physical activities as they planned to. Also, I have couple of friends who can't run a lot due to their knees. Another friend injured his Achilles tendon (hope that's how it is written in English), and he simply can't run anymore, he went through several surgeries and he slowly recovers.

I do running, walking and hiking, on average ~5km per day (3 miles). I do have a proper technique, my shoes are decent, and I ran 6 years of my childhood, along with cross-country skiing. I always warm up before and stretch after. I also try to run on the grass/ground and to avoid asphalt/concrete.

I don't have any pains or injuries right now, but I am becoming a bit paranoid about my body (I want to be active as long as possible, and good habits form slowly). What can I do to decrease chances of needed new knees/hips, hurting some muscles and so on? Maybe there is like a comprehensive book? Or some personal experience?

chenda
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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by chenda » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:18 am

Anedotally I've heard running is supposed to be bad for joints as they have not evolved for endurance running, especially over hard surfaces. You are better off swimming or walking or doing short bursts of cardio. Apparently running has only become mainstream in recent decades and is leading to joint problems.

Similarly a cardiologist once told me he is utterly opposed to marathons and the like, as our hearts weren't designed for long distance endurance running. You always hear of people collapsing and dieing at things like the New York marathon, often a healthy 20 something who didn't have the right sort of heart.

I should add I hate running and am very prejudiced against it. The above is heresay not a medical opinion.

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Bankai
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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by Bankai » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:42 am

Hmm interesting, I read the exact opposite that runners actually have much stronger joints than non-runners. which seems logical since most body parts seem to improve when under pressure. Obv. people running half-marathon every day will be in trouble long term, but casual running few times a week should be very positive.

flying_pan
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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by flying_pan » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:49 am

chenda wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:18 am
Anedotally I've heard running is supposed to be bad for joints as they have not evolved for endurance running, especially over hard surfaces. You are better off swimming or walking or doing short bursts of cardio. Apparently running has only become mainstream in recent decades and is leading to joint problems.

Similarly a cardiologist once told me he is utterly opposed to marathons and the like, as our hearts weren't designed for long distance endurance running. You always hear of people collapsing and dieing at things like the New York marathon, often a healthy 20 something who didn't have the right sort of heart.

I should add I hate running and am very prejudiced against it. The above is heresay not a medical opinion.
I actually read something similar, but don't remember where and when. I just have to add I am running, walking and hiking not for exercising per se, rather I just enjoy these activities :) They are very meditative for me, and if I don't do any of them, I start to feel not so good and have the urge to do them.

I also heard that swimming is literally the best thing, it is super gentle on your body and it develops all groups of muscles. However, I hate gyms and swimming pools and I like open spaces. Technically, I can open in lakes here (ocean is too harsh), I have a wetsuit and probably can develop a habit to swim in colder temperatures, but the whole process will be too much time consuming. Also, I am paranoid somebody will steal my keys/documents (I think you got the pattern about me here), so I don't really swim. If I lived at the lakefront property, I'd definitely do it, though.

p.s. this is actually one of the reasons I am asking. Like if running/hiking in aggressive terrain is bad for your body, how I can help with it.

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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by theanimal » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:48 am

There are some very strong advocates for working out in the pool doing high intensity interval exercises or explosive movements. You get the same benefit as you would being on land but almost no impact on the joints. I am not talking about swimming but movements with your own body weight or weight. There are a few elite athletes such as surfer Laird Hamilton and UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre who have transitioned to mostly doing workouts in the pool. Both discuss portions of their regimen during their respective interviews on the Joe Rogan podcast.

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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by chenda » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:34 am

I expect there is some kind off trade off in that moderate running is going to be better for cardio health than a sedentary lifestyle or being fat, which itself can't be good for joints. So if you like running and it motivates you to exercise than the net health benefits might outweigh the potential risks to joints. Moderation and soft surfaces might help to mitigate the risks. I love being in water, though I can see it doesn't appeal to everyone.

I wonder if a lot of UFC fighters, Olympic athletes and similar end up with early onset osteoarthritis or similar problems. They're putting their joints to extreme pressures which can't be healthy long term.

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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by jacob » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:49 am

My formula is to do it regularly but don't overdo it and avoid high-risk activities.

I swam competitively as a [young teen] and while that was certainly low-impact, it was also shit for things like posture and weight-bearing strength. Therefore, I don't think the solution is to avoid any and all impacts but to do them in moderation and know when to taper off/take a break, that is, know the difference between injury and soreness. This goes for running but also for things like lifting. I think there are a countable number of lifters here on the forum who are dealing with spinal/joint problems due to having overdone it at some point. I've stopped playing hockey for a similar reason ... I don't want to risk permanently ripping something in my knee because someone fell on top of me in some unlucky skirmish.

Many old athletes seem to be dealing with some issue they're trying to work around. That is, of course, still fewer issues than a lifelong couch potato will eventually be dealing with.

I used to run regularly (6.5min miles) and at one point I was increasing distances (rather than speed). After doing a half-marathon on a whim (lets just keep running), I could definitely feel that my left knee wasn't right. Then I took a yuge break ... and when I returned, my ankles quickly complained about the pounding. Hence, the point about doing it regularly (at least once a week) but not too often (not every day). This becomes even more important as one gets older ... and by older I mean over 30! :shock: Take too long of a break and one practically starts over.

Far worse than "starting over" is that the effects don't scale up at the same rate. Cardio can be recovered in a week. Muscles in a month. But tendons take half a year! ... This means that to restart running after a long break one is very tempted to go too far too fast because running is easy ... until noticing a few weeks in that the ankles are completely fucked up with tendonitis. This self-discipline (going slowly and not doing more than 10% extra each week) is hard to enforce.

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Ego
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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by Ego » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:54 am

I believe most of the injuries people experience while running are the result of excess weight or extreme distances.

Bone density and health as well as connective tissue strength and health are the direct result of the stress they experiences. Too much is bad. Not enough is bad.

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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by flying_pan » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:59 am

chenda wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:34 am
I expect there is some kind off trade off in that moderate running is going to be better for cardio health than a sedentary lifestyle or being fat, which itself can't be good for joints. So if you like running and it motivates you to exercise than the net health benefits might outweigh the potential risks to joints. Moderation and soft surfaces might help to mitigate the risks. I love being in water, though I can see it doesn't appeal to everyone.

I wonder if a lot of UFC fighters, Olympic athletes and similar end up with early onset osteoarthritis or similar problems. They're putting their joints to extreme pressures which can't be healthy long term.
Not to deny any benefits from the water, but I think our goals are pretty much orthogonal. Elite athletes obviously want the best results, I just want to stay fit, do what I like and do it as long as possible. I don't really think all athletes really want to do it all their lives.

In fact, my training sessions might be almost opposite with them :) I am not very competitive, I am doing it for myself, so I rarely push "too much".

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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by flying_pan » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:04 am

jacob wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:49 am
I used to run regularly (6.5min miles) and at one point I was increasing distances (rather than speed). After doing a half-marathon on a whim (lets just keep running), I could definitely feel that my left knee wasn't right. Then I took a yuge break ... and when I returned, my ankles quickly complained about the pounding. Hence, the point about doing it regularly (at least once a week) but not too often (not every day). This becomes even more important as one gets older ... and by older I mean over 30! :shock: Take too long of a break and one practically starts over.
Great advice. I agree completely and I actually skipped a lot on exercising, and started to get back into shape around a year ago. I overdid a bit in the beginning, so stayed almost a month away from bars. I am pretty good with running, I know how to increase my load slowly, now I am in a good position of either relatively fast running for several kilometers, or several bursts.

---

So, are new knees needed only if you overdo it constantly or get some injury, or is it a matter of luck? I struggle to find any information since most of it is just clickbaity articles about fitness (the whole industry, along with diet, essentially is selling people snake oil, which is sad).
Or people who injure their knees, do they just not stop when they clearly should have?

Scott 2
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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:42 am

High level athletes wreck their bodies. There's nothing healthy about being extremely competitive.

If you're optimizing for joint health, stay as light as possible, avoid extremes, vary your activity, and invest in recovery. Eating well, sleeping, stress control, tissue quality, etc.

Personally, I weight things towards enjoying the activities I like, and then working around it when I hurt. My best case scenario might be prematurely wearing out some joints, but there's no guarantee of old age. Most likely, I can at least swim while old and broken. In every other scenario, I end up ahead relative to being overly conservative.

Wouldn't it suck to avoid running for your joint longevity, then die young from something else anyways?

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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by flying_pan » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:08 pm

Scott 2 wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:42 am
High level athletes wreck their bodies. There's nothing healthy about being extremely competitive.

If you're optimizing for joint health, stay as light as possible, avoid extremes, vary your activity, and invest in recovery. Eating well, sleeping, stress control, tissue quality, etc.

Personally, I weight things towards enjoying the activities I like, and then working around it when I hurt. My best case scenario might be prematurely wearing out some joints, but there's no guarantee of old age. Most likely, I can at least swim while old and broken. In every other scenario, I end up ahead relative to being overly conservative.

Wouldn't it suck to avoid running for your joint longevity, then die young from something else anyways?
There is definitely a sweet spot between doing nothing and being a pro athlete. However, I am not really looking for this specific spot; I am actually pretty content with my efforts. I mean, I can change it if I have some proofs that it will prolong my active life, but I don't think such proofs exist (and I don't do anything too strenuous).

What I am looking specifically is how to decrease chances to worsen my joints/muscles when I am older. E.g. don't run on asphalt, don't lift couches every week, don't walk more than 30 kilometers per day (I just made up all these recommendations).
To put it into a more specific example, if I have a kayak weighting 25kg, and I carry it all by myself for 5 minutes 2 times per week, will it have any consequences later? I am 6 ft (~182 cm) and 70kg (~154 lbs).

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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:33 pm

Your approach seems very moderate and reasonable to me. That's a good build for running.

We lose muscle as we age, which can lead to mobility problems. I wonder if a little strength training wouldn't benefit you. But I also like lifting weights and hate running, so strong bias here.

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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by conwy » Tue Dec 10, 2019 7:29 pm

My formula is strength training, walking, a little HIIT and a little swimming.

I try to keep safe and maintain proper form when strength training. I don't overdo it, I just train hard enough to get the heat rate up and really challenge the muscles without risking injury or overtraining. I'd rather maintain a happy medium of muscle rather than be fantastically ripped in a way that's unsustainable in the long term.

Walking is more for relaxing and pondering life.

HIIT is good for heart and lungs.

Swimming is good for adding a little endurance to the mix and it's just fun anyhow (though better in summer).

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Re: How to save your muscles and joints when exercising

Post by theanimal » Tue Dec 10, 2019 8:17 pm

flying_pan wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:59 am
Not to deny any benefits from the water, but I think our goals are pretty much orthogonal. Elite athletes obviously want the best results, I just want to stay fit, do what I like and do it as long as possible. I don't really think all athletes really want to do it all their lives.

In fact, my training sessions might be almost opposite with them :) I am not very competitive, I am doing it for myself, so I rarely push "too much".
I mentioned the athletes because they are doing exactly what you seek. Changing their routines so that they can progress as they get older and save the wear and tear on their joints. Focus on the style not the substance.

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