Have a Testosterone Boosting Three Way: Part 2

In our prior post, Have a Testosterone Boosting Three Way: Part 1, we covered the first step in naturally increasing testosterone levels – DIET.

I promised a post that shows a 3-step plan to help boost testosterone naturally. This formula has been successful for many guys, including myself, over the years. For some, it doubled their T levels within a 90-day period. We will cover this topic in a series of three posts so you get all the info without getting a migraine afterwards.

Testosterone levels are taking a nose dive. Studies have shown that the average male’s testosterone in today’s society is nearly 25% lower than in the 1980’s. Without the big T, men become infertile, impotent, docile, and weak.

The thing is, men’s testosterone levels in 2013 ranged from 270 – 1070 ng/dL. 100 years ago men’s testosterone levels were recorded to be between 800-2000 ng/dL!

T1This means that the men with “low testosterone” 100 years ago would be considered men with high testosterone now. This is an alarming statistic. And the trend is continuing each and every year! It is estimated that over 14 million men currently suffer with low testosterone levels.

The SECOND STEP to increase T naturally is: SUPPLEMENTS

While there are probably hundreds of different supplements on the market claiming they raise testosterone levels, not all of them actually produce the results you see in their ads and websites.

Another factor is where are these supplements being sourced? Even when you’re taking a regular vitamin, let’s say vitamin C, it’s important that you get this from a reputable company that is providing a natural source. Even when a vitamin is marked “natural”, it only has to include 10% of the actual natural plant-derived ingredients. The other 90% could be synthetic.

This is an important factor since what you put into your body is crucial for your health and longevity. I’m going to take this a step further and quickly discuss six categories of nutrients used in the manufacturing of vitamin supplements.

1. NATURAL SOURCE – These include nutrients from vegetable, animal or mineral sources, but prior to being bottled, they undergo significant processing and refining.

2. NATURE-IDENTICAL SYNTHETIC – This includes nutrients completely manufactured in a lab with the molecular structure identical to the same nutrients occurring in nature. Manufacturers often prefer this process because of the cost and scarcity of natural resources. Most standard vitamin supplements on the market today are this type.

3. STRICTLY SYNTHETIC – These nutrients are manufactured in a lab and are different than the same nutrients found in nature. Synthetic vitamins can have the same chemical constituents, but have different chemical compositions.

4. FOOD CULTURED – These are actually my preferred source and what I generally purchase for myself. This involves the same process behind cultured foods like yogurt, kefir, miso, and sauerkraut. Nutrient supplements are often grown in yeast or algae. Culturing in and of itself creates nutrients and can make them more bio-available.

5. FOOD BASED – One kind of food based supplement is made by enzymatically reacting synthetic and natural vitamins with extracts containing vegetable proteins and then making this into a supplement. This is not food cultured, because the nutrients are not grown into a whole food, as in the yeast/algae suspensions.

6. BACTERIAL FERMENTATION – This includes nutrients produced by genetically altering bacteria. Genetically altered bacteria can produce nutrient by-products.

One thing I’m going to say again, popping a few vitamins isn’t going to magically increase your T levels. This is a 3-part program. If you’re eating garbage and not exercising, no amount of supplements is going to help your testosterone levels reach optimal levels.


t2– Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 actually isn’t a vitamin, it’s a hormone — a really important hormone that provides a whole host of health benefits. Our bodies can naturally make vitamin D from the sun, but recent studies have shown that many Westerners are vitamin D3 deprived because we’re spending less and less time outdoors. When we do decide to venture outside, we slather our bodies with sunscreen, which prevents the sun reaching our skin to kick-off vitamin D3 production. If you’re not getting enough sun, you may have a vitamin D3 deficiency, which may contribute to low T levels. Studies have shown that men who take this supplement see a boost in their testosterone levels. Because I live in the Pacific Nortwest — and the sun isn’t out most of the year — I take 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 in the morning and could probably take more. Tim Ferris from the 5 hour body recommends 6,000 IU upon waking and 6,000 IU at night. Keep in mind that it may take someone already deficient 6 months to return to baseline levels.

– Omega-3 Fish Oil (EPA and DHA). First and foremost, I’m very picky with my fish oil. I only buy wild caught and make sure it contains low mercury and heavy metals.  Fish oil has been shown to lower SHBG and increase production of Luteinizing Hormone (the hormone responsible for triggering the testes to produce T). You want to make sure you have enough of the “good” fats to clear the gunk out of your blood. hey have been shown to reduce triglyceride levels while providing your body with the fat it needs to produce testosterone. Fish oil is also known to help improve mood, which is a nice bonus.

– Zinc. Studies on zincs supplementation suggest that zinc plays an important part in regulating serum testosterone levels in healthy men. Zinc is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in western countries, and even a mild zinc deficiency lowers sex drive, limits muscle gain potential, causes weight gain and hurts energy levels. Zinc is also a powerful aromatase inhibitor that will greatly reduce the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the body.

– Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is another widespread problem in our country. While this makes you prone to stress and muscle cramps, it also starves your body’s endocrine system of a vital mineral it needs for testosterone production. We wrote another article on how magnesium alone can send your testosterone levels through the roof. You have to check it out. Aim to get 400 mg daily.

– Vitamin C. Vitamin C reduces cortisol in your body. This is a very good thing. Less cortisol = more ability to produce testosterone and vice versa. So taking your vitamin C, along with de-stressing, will promote a natural anabolic environment in your body. Aim for 1,000 mg daily.

t3– Vitamin A. Vitamin A has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men by means of the suppression of estrogen levels. When your estrogen levels are high this causes a decrease in testosterone production. Blocking this production with Vitamin A will allow your testosterone to flourish.

– ZMA. Since Magnesium and Zinc both raise your test levels, it makes sense that taking a combination supplement like ZMA will work for you. The collaboration of these two supplements has been proven to increase the deepness of your REM cycles, which will raise your testosterone levels.

– DHEA. One alternative to straight testosterone replacement is to boost the levels of the hormones that stimulate testosterone production instead. DHEA, for example, is a “parent hormone” made in the adrenal gland and testes, which changes into testosterone in men and estrogen in women. One solution to low testosterone is DHEA supplements, which naturally raise the body’s serum androstenedione levels with is a 19-carbon steroid hormone that is an intermediate step in the biochemical pathway that produces the androgen testosterone and the estrogens estrone and estradiol. A DHEA clinical study found that DHEA supplementation significantly increased strength and lean body mass.

– Tribulus Alatus (T-Alatus). Not to be confused with its relative, Tribulus Terrestris, this special herb was proved in a study to significantly increase the level of free serum testosterone. Tribulus Alatus is also great for muscle building and strength enhancement.It also boosts your immune support from its high antioxidant qualities. Tribulus Alatus is said to be slightly more effective than Terrestris because it contains 6 unique steroidal saponins. The dosage is in the range of 350mg to 500mg. Also, make sure is it pure Alatus and not a scaled down extract version.

– Allicin Garlic.  In a garlic clinical study found that garlic supplementation increases testicular testosterone and decreases plasma corticosterone. During the study, diets with different protein levels were tested to conclude that garlic boosts testosterone on a high protein diet.

– Vitamin E. One vitamin E clinical study found that after oral vitamin E supplementation, normal male subjects had a significant rise in basal plasma testosterone. The results concluded that vitamin E may play and important role in hormone production in the pituitary-gonadal area in humans.


– Tongkat Ali Extract – Tongkat ali extract is both clinicaly proven to increase your testosterone levels through the production of leydig cells, and to increase your free testosterone levels by means of lower SHGB levels. This way, you are available to use all the hard earned testosterone you are producing with the steps above. (See all these studies and more here). It is one of the most easily faked supplements on the web, so make sure you are getting tongkat ali extract and not tongkat ali root powder. They look exactly the same. The extract strength is best at 1:200 and it has to be from Indonesia.


– D-Aspartic Acid. D-aspartic acid is all the rage in bodybuilding right now. It is an amino acid that has a dramatic effect on your testosterone levels. Many users report seeing a rise in testosterone of 33% in as fast as two weeks while using 3,000 mg a day. How it work’s is it helps your body convert cholesterol and its natural resources into testosterone. One supplement I would recommend for this is TestoFuel. With 2300 mg of D-Aspartic Acid, it also contains 5,000 IU of D3, 200 mg of Magnesium, and 10 mg of Zinc.


t4Lastly, when you’re boosting your T levels, it’s important to take care of two main organs that are helping the testosterone conversion: Liver and Kidneys. There are three main supplements I suggest to aid with your liver and kidney health. You will thank yourself later for taking extra good care of these guys.

– Dandelion. Herbalists use dandelion root to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, and dandelion leaves to support kidney function. Dandelion leaves act as a diuretic and increase the amount of urine produced by the body, supporting kidney function. Dandelion leaves are also used to stimulate the appetite and aid digestion.

– Milk Thistle. Today, milk thistle is still one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world and is also the number one recommended natural herb for liver health. In fact,in Europe, milk thistle is a prescribed medication. The milk thistle extract is prescribed to treat mushroom poisoning, alcoholic cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, drug and alcohol-induced liver damage and acute viral hepatitis, just to name a few.

– Tumeric. This yellow root—a cousin of ginger—is a powerful liver protector and even liver cell regenerator. It not only helps stimulate enzymes responsible for flushing out toxins (including known carcinogens) from the body, but UCLA research found that turmeric is capable of combating the effects of carcinogens.

Stay tuned for part 3. Until then, live well and be well.

Tristan "Lucky"

Written by: Tristan “Lucky”

Bodybuilding + Meditation = Strong Mind + Strong Body

STOP. Before you read any further I am going to emphasize that this is not some “crunchy granola” article telling you to go dress like Gandhi and start chanting random words like “om” with bells gonging in the background.

Hell no.


Yes, this article is about meditation, yet it discusses how meditation has actually helped bodybuilders obtain more physical strength (ie: Gains, son). Do I have your attention now?

Meditation is especially important for: Type A personalities, worriers, sleep-deprived individuals, evening over-eaters, hyper-active guys and the over-worked and under-played.

DID YOU KNOW? These are the rewards of daily meditation:

1. Lowered risk of over-training
2. Reduced stress hormone concentrations like cortisol and aldosterone
3. Higher DHEA-Sulfate as well as increased testosterone and growth hormone response to stress
4. Improved kidney function, lower sodium-potassium ratio and reduced urinary loss of calcium and zinc
5. Remarkable success getting off drugs, even after being dependent
6. Enhanced immune function
7. A shift toward fat oxidation “fat burning”
8. Enhanced reaction time
9. Improved focus and sports performance
10. Improved carbohydrate metabolism
11. Reduced evening-time overeating and better chance for long term weight loss
12. Slowed biological aging (according to biomarkers) up to 5-12 years
13. Improved antioxidant effects indicated by 15% lower lipid peroxides
14. Ability to levitate and dead lift using chopsticks. (well, maybe)

Surprised? I bet. It would sound like a joke if all of the claims didn’t have the hard science to support them. Every one of these 14, I mean 13, claims is scientifically referenced below and not just subjective, hopeful delusions. Meditation can do wonders for your mind AND body.

Young Grasshopper – Begin Here

Even Gandhi gets in beast mode...
Even Gandhi gets in beast mode…

The first thing you have to do is stop the internal dialogue that chatters beneath the surface of our every day lives. The thoughts filled with worry, the internal debates, the racing thoughts at bedtime and the constant replay of the fight you had with your girlfriend.

How do we get our brains to shut up? Well, there’s a space between our thoughts and you basically have the objective to make that space grow longer and longer with practice. A chatter-free mind is an unbelievably focused mind that spills over into physical benefits as listed above. I know it sounds virtually impossible and may even feel that way in the beginning, but I assure you that after practice, you can find silence and it’s a beautiful thing, my friend.

Shut Up, Mind!

Step 1. Focus on your breathing. Focus ONLY on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose slowly, breathe out through your mouth slowly – in and out – repeat. Yes, I do keep my eyes closed and do this usually in my meditate gifbedroom with as little outside distractions as possible, including light distractions. I don’t sit all yogi master with my thumbs pressed against my third finger resting on my knees in romantic candlelight with burning incense – I simply lay flat on my back in the comfort of my bed with my arms resting at my sides or my hands entwined resting on my stomach.

Step 2. Sometimes, I listen to guided meditations. Some of the best I have found are actually on YouTube. There are a bunch of different types of meditations and you definitely want to go by the user reviews on the videos. You can also find some great websites that have videos and MP3 files. If you don’t want to hear someone talking, you can find mediation sounds / music.

If you want to learn to meditate with a fellow bodybuilder, check out Ben Pakulski’s video with Alvin Brown (Peak Performance Coach) – click here

Still think I’m full of sh*t?

Then, check out these other bodybuilders talking about meditation right on the bodybuilding.com forum: click here

Or, you can read bodybuilding.com’s article about “mindfulness” (mindful lifting) which includes meditation: click here

There are plenty of websites, articles and forums discussing bodybuilding and meditation. This isn’t some new thing I’m writing about.

The way I look at it, you’ll never know until you try it respectfully. I once thought the whole thing was just some crazy-talk from old hippies holding crystals in Sedona, AZ. But, then I decided to try it out for myself and realized I was reaping mega benefits from calming my mind and allowing my body to become fully alert. It’s not just your body that changes. Your life changes.


your workouts will never be the same, my friend.


Tristan "Lucky"

Written by: Tristan “Lucky”

References and Further Reading

1. Aikens, J., et al. Psychological predictors of glycemic change with relaxation training in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Psychother Psychosom. 1997;66(6):302-6.

2. Fehr, T. Therapeutically relevant effects by transcendental meditation? Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol. 1996 May;46(5):178-88.

3. Glaser, J., et al. Elevated serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels in practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and TM-Sidhi programs. J Behav Med. 1992 Aug;15(4):327-41.

4. Golay, A., et al. New interdisciplinary cognitive-behavioural-nutritional approach to obesity treatment: a 5-year follow-up study. Eat Weight Disord. 2004 Mar;9(1):29-34.

5. Infante, J., et al. ACTH and beta-endorphin in transcendental meditation. Physiol Behav. 1998 Jun 1;64(3):311-5.

6. Jevning, R. Integrated metabolic regulation during acute rest states in man, similarity to fasting: a biochemical hypothesis. Physiol Behav. 1988;43(6):735-7.

7. Jones, B. Changes in cytokine production in healthy subjects practicing Guolin Qigong : a pilot study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2001;1(1):8. Epub 2001 Oct 18.

8. Kellmann, M. (Ed.) Enhancing Recovery. 2002; Human Kinetics Publishers: Champaign, IL. pp.65-66.

9. Kesterson, J. and Clinch, N. Metabolic rate, respiratory exchange ratio, and apneas during meditation. Am J Physiol. 1989 Mar;256(3 Pt 2):R632-8.

10. Levenson R., et al. Voluntary facial action generates emotion-specific autonomic nervous system activity. Psychophysiology. 1990 Jul;27(4):363-84.

11. Loehr , J. Mental Toughness Training for Sports. 1982. The Stephen Greene Press: New York, NY. pp. 82, 123, 181

12. MacLean, C., et al. Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on adaptive mechanisms: changes in hormone levels and responses to stress after 4 months of practice. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1997 May;22(4):277-95.

13. Monahan, R. Secondary prevention of drug dependence through the transcendental meditation program in metropolitan Philadelphia. Int J Addict. 1977 Sep;12(6):729-54.

14. Nagler, W. and Androff, A. Investigating the impact of deconditioning anxiety on weight loss. Psychol Rep. 1990 Apr;66(2):595-600.

15. Pawlow, L. et al. Night eating syndrome: effects of brief relaxation training on stress, mood, hunger, and eating patterns. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Aug;27(8):970-8.

16. Pawlow, L. and Jones, G. The impact of abbreviated progressive muscle relaxation on salivary cortisol. Biol Psychol. 2002;60(1):1-16.

17. Quackwatch.com

18. Schnieder, R., et al. Lower lipid peroxide levels in practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation program. Psychosom Med. 1998 Jan-Feb;60(1):38-41.

19. Sudsuang, R., et al. Effect of Buddhist meditation on serum cortisol and total protein levels, blood pressure, pulse rate, lung volume and reaction time. Physiol Behav. 1991 Sep;50(3):543-8.

20. MeditateBodybuilding.net

21. Wallace, R., et al. The effects of the transcendental meditation and TM-Sidhi program on the aging process. Int J Neurosci. 1982 Feb;16(1):53-8.

22. Walton, K., et al. Stress reduction and preventing hypertension: preliminary support for a psychoneuroendocrine mechanism. J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Fall;1(3):263-83.



Bodybuilding vs. Crossfit: Can We Be Friends?


Crossfitters.  Bodybuilders.  Man, do they love to hate each other.  Just like rivals in college football, the passion erupts when the two worlds collide.  Yet, at the core of it all, bodybuilders and Crossfitters actually have much more in common then they’d ever admit to online.

They both suffer from inaccurate and extreme stereotyping.

Just as not all bodybuilders are jacked up meatheads, not all Crossfitters are social media-obsessed, acronym-loving yuppies. And sadly, as ridiculous as these negative portrayals are, the worst thing about them is that they are coming from other fitness enthusiasts.

Here in the fitness industry you get a divide between people working towards essentially the same shared goals and aspirations.

They both appear elitist to outsiders.

Bodybuilders and the Crossfit community both are passionate and inclusive. Both have their own cliques of sorts. Both have a strong support network with just as many acronyms, buzzwords and nomenclature.

1-1But unlike the bodybuilding community which enjoyed its biggest boom in popularity before the dawn of the internet, Crossfit was born into the much smaller and more well-connected world of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, with the resources to build a community in lightning speed.

If bodybuilding had access to the same online tools back in the day, it would have attracted just as much internet rage as Crossfit does today.  It’s just that bodybuilders have been doing their thing for years and years and years (shall I go on?)

Crossfit is the new puppy you’ve just brought home from the rescue shelter: hyperactive, not yet house-broken, yapping and licking your guests to death.  It will settle down with maturity.  You hope.

Injuries are caused by bad form.  End of.

Entire YouTube channels exist and make money solely out of ripping on Crossfit and the “bad form” argument, but the truth is that pretty much all exercise programs share the risk of injury.

Using poor form, overtraining or ignoring mobility and flexibility issues will result in injury, whether you’re doing bench press super-sets or kipping pull ups in a WOD.

Go to any local bodybuilding gym and you’ll many examples of bad form as you do in Crossfit. There are just more videos of FAILS on Youtube of Crossfitters. They really do love social media to a maximum level.

Bodybuilders are the wise old owls of the industry, but the fact is that mistakes in bodybuilding technique happen as they do in Crossfit.

They share the same goals.

Bodybuilding is very focused on aesthetics.  But as much as Crossfitters dismiss bodybuilding as pure vanity, insisting that Crossfit is instead about “being fit in all permutations of the word”, the fact is that the majority of people who train in either discipline are driven by ego,  whether that is purely to look a certain way or to achieve some other physical goal.

1-2Bodybuilding and Crossfit are both strength and conditioning training programs, they both result in strength gains and aesthetic changes. Bodybuilders are more about the strength gains and Crossfitters are more about conditioning.

Competitive bodybuilding was created and popularized on the foundation that anyone could join the gym, change their physique and compete at an amateur level.  Crossfit did the exact same thing.

They both follow the same principles…

…of hard work, determination and healthy living.

Whether it’s the strict Paleo diet and training plans of your average Crossfitter or the typical lean down/bulk up bodybuilding lifestyle, there’s no doubt that an immense amount of discipline, commitment and dedication is involved.

Both schools of training will get you fit, both will get you strong and both will make you look awesome.  It’s not that one is the right way to train and the other is wrong, it’s just dependent on which type of training you prefer and what your primary body goals are in the long run.

zumbaLook at it this way. The thought of doing a Zumba class to me sounds like a complete waste of an hour of my life.  Does that mean I need to rant about it, post videos of people dancing about and argue with them about how much better my training is than theirs?

Though I may comment with “LMFAO” under a Zumba parody video, I know that the Zumba crowd is different, they appeal to different people and they achieve different things. But they do have one important thing in common: they help people to get fit. And that is what’s important!

So what if a Zumba class isn’t the most effective kind of training for me?  Your mom and her best friend, Patty Duke, can’t get enough of it.  And the fact is that Zumba gets them off the couch and moving means they’re exercising and socializing instead of snacking on the couch watching “The Kardashians” every night.

Enough about Zumba.

There is actually a lot of crossover between the disciplines of bodybuilding and crossfit and they can learn from each other. I do recommend the crossfitters learning from the wise old owls when it comes to weight training. And bodybuilders and learn a thing or two about incorporating more conditioning exercises.

When it comes down to it, who cares whether you’re lifting this way or that way, as long as you’re LIFTING.

We’re all part of the same community.  How about we celebrate our commonalities and lift each other up instead of beating each other down?

As far as I’m concerned, as long as you’re lifting, you’re my friend.

Tristan "Lucky"

Written by: Tristan “Lucky”

Foods That Kill Your Sex Drive and Lower Your Testosterone

Have you found yourself going to bed without an urge for some sexual relief more than usual? It might be something you ate. These days, more men suffer from decreased sex drives than ever before and some of the major culprits are as simple as what you’re putting in your mouth.

Foods can negatively impact your libido, especially as your age, so it’s vital to limit or get these ball breakers off your plate. T levels affect sexual desire, so anything that depletes your hormone (“man-mone”) levels can eventually kill your sex drive.



5. Soy – Don’t worry about getting “man boobs” if you have small, irregular amounts of soy in your diet, but excess amounts of the legume-derived products (soy milk, tofu, edamame) can drastically reduce the levels of testosterone in the blood and decrease your libido, according to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researches found that men who consumed 120 mg of soy a day had a decrease in testosterone. If you’re working on becoming a dad, make sure you cut down or delete it entirely from your diet since it can lower sperm count.


4. Graham Crackers – Surprised? I was too. When Dr. Sylvester Graham created Dr. Graham’s Honey Biskets in 1829, he believed the graham meal would suppress carnal desires (i.e. masturbation).

Any refined carbohydrates, such as those loaded into graham crackers, can still wreak havoc on a man’s intimate time between the sheets. Excess refined carbs (bleached white flour) can kill T levels. Sugars from refined carbs will not only make you gain weight, but can raise your estrogen levels and deplete T levels. So, if I were you, I’d lower your intake of S’mores.


3. Alcohol – I’m being serious. I know this is a tough one. A little here and there never hurt anyone’s lust, but surprisingly, overindulging can bring things down by the end of the night.

Sex coaches are really big on this known fact and sex therapist, David Yarian, tells us, “Too much alcohol, too much rich food-too much food in general-is going to make the person sleepy and not that interested.” Another coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, Amy Levine, advises to “work on having two to three drinks max if you want to be ready later.”


1. Meat containing hormones (especially red meat) – Foods that contain added hormones or antibiotics are a huge sex offender by unbalancing a man’s natural hormones when consumed in excess. For some, certain foods can even affect secretions like semen, sweat, urine and breath, according to Amy Levine.

Overall, red meat has its pluses when consumed as grass fed beef with no hormones. You can then embrace the awesome-ness of red meat by gaining muscle and zapping fat if you also opt for leaner cuts.


1. Eating in excess – This is the #1 sex drive killer for any man. The worst food that a man can have for his sex drive is too much of it. Diet accelerates the aging process. Anyone carrying extra weight from ages 35 to 60 is accelerating the aging process. Midsection increase is probably the number one reason
for lost sex drive. A good diet equals good sex.

Tristan "Lucky"





Written by: Tristan “Lucky”

Exercise 101: 7 Ways to Kill Your Joints

329293-16517-11As everyone is well aware, exercise is good for your heart, helps with weight loss and provides a variety of health-related benefits. At the same time, exercise comes with a certain degree of injury risk, and depending on the activity, it can also put a lot of stress on your joints. The key is to exercise safely and choose activities and movements that reduce your risk of injury, pain or other complications.

So how do you protect your joints to make sure you’re not doing more harm than good? By creating a routine based on your individual needs and abilities as well as taking some precautionary measures. You can reduce your risk of injury and make working out an enjoyable part of your daily routine, instead of a painful one.

Common Joint Injuries

Knee-pain4Joint injuries occur for a variety of reasons, including improper training or technique, overuse, sudden directional changes and even falls. Of course, there are health conditions that affect the joints, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and degenerative disc disease (the spine is comprised of many joints), but this article will focus on preventable injuries, not these chronic conditions.

The most common injuries happen to joints that are subjected to repeated impact, which will vary depending on the activity. For example, injuries to runners and walkers typically affect the hip, knee and ankle joints, since the lower body absorbs most of the impact during these activities. Tennis players often have elbow joint problems from the repeated swing of the racquet. Weightlifters canstockphoto13365645-272x300commonly experience shoulder joint problems, especially if they regularly perform upper body exercises using very heavy weight. And people who play high-speed contact sports (such as basketball or soccer) can often experience injuries like joint sprains, twists or tears due to the torque of a sudden directional change or fall. But you don’t have to be a serious athlete to experience injury.

7 Common Mistakes that Lead to Joint Injury

Everyday exercisers and weekend warriors often suffer injury due to a few common mistakes that can be prevented with careful attention. Here’s what to be aware of so you can move and exercise without joint pain or injury.

    • Doing too much, too soon. When starting a new exercise program or workout routine, motivation is typically high.  It’s easy to get caught up and decide that while a 30-minute workout is good, a 2-hour workout is even better. Before you know it, you’ve got nagging knee pain and have to stop your workout routine completely. Joint pain and injury is common when you don’t allow 460715051the body to adapt slowly to exercise. Remember it’s not just your heart and lungs that need to slowly work up to harder or longer workouts; every system in your body needs time to adapt: your muscles, circulatory system, ligaments, cartilage and even your bones and joints. It’s important to ease into exercise, regardless of how motivated you are to do more even if it feels “OK” at the time. Start with lighter activity, shorter duration, and less frequent workouts (to allow for some recovery days) and then progress as you feel up to it, but no more than about 10% per week. It is also true that injury becomes a higher risk as you age.


    • Performing the same activities all the time. It’s important to find activities you enjoy, because that makes it easier to stick with an exercise routine. But you can end up with too much of a good thekneething if you are always doing the same activity all the time. For example, you like running so you do it every day as your only form of exercise. Taxing the same muscles (and joints) in the same way day after day can easily lead to overuse injury and wearing down of cartilage. This is one reason why performing a variety of activities each week is important. By moving your muscles and joints in different directions and intensities, you can help prevent injury.


    • Wearing the wrong footwear. When heading into a specialty shoe store for the first time, it’s easy to get sticker shock. Typically, there are lots of options. Many of which can be expensive.  Although you might save money by picking up some shoes on sale at your local discount store, you may also be increasing your risk of injury by wearing shoes that don’t meet your needs. Employees at a specialty store are often able to 19244772-ankle-pain--detailanalyze your foot, gait and foot strike, and look for any mechanical or anatomical issues to determine the right shoe for you. Plus, athletic shoes are designed for specific purposes. Running shoes often provide some motion control and cushioning for forward motion, but won’t have the ankle support you’d need for playing basketball, which involves a lot of lateral movement and sudden directional changes. An investment in good footwear for your specific activity can prevent injury and pain, as well as the expense from doctor’s visits and physical therapy. And, yes, there are also specific shoes for weight lifting. read more


    • Exercising with improper technique. Whether riding a stationary bike or lifting weights, proper technique is essential to preventing joint injury. For example, if the seat of the bike isn’t positioned properly, it can put extra pressure on the knee that wouldn’t otherwise occur, increasing the risk of injury. If you try a new weight machine at the gym without knowing how to use it, this increases your risk of injury. If you don’t have ideal gait patterns or alignment (and most people don’t), you are putting your joints news_articles_large_totaljointat risk with every step, lunge, jump and squat–unless you know how to correct yourself. The truth is, few people without formal instruction know how to line up every joint and move through the correct range of motion that keeps their joints safe. While it’s something anyone can learn, it takes diligence and attention during every movement–not just in the beginning, but forever. If you aren’t sure how to do an exercise properly, ask! Most gyms have trained fitness staff who are there to help. You could also hire a personal trainer for a short time to learn these basics, or even go to a group fitness class where a qualified instructor will be able to explain and point out those keys so that all participants stay safe.


    • Skipping the warm up, cool down or stretches. When you’re short on time, it’s tempting to skip one (or more) of these pieces of the workout routine. But there is an important reason for each one, and choosing not to do them can lead to joint injury.  A proper warm up safely prepares the body for the increased demands of exercise by generating heat, increasing circulation to the muscles and joints, and lubricating the joints for activity. Cold 475699209muscles do not absorb shock or impact as well, and are more susceptible to injury, so always warm up for at least a few minutes before you work out. The cool down brings your heart rate back to normal slowly and safely, which helps prevent pooling of the blood in the extremities (which can cause dizziness or fainting), and stretching after a workout (when the muscles are warmer, lubricated and more elastic) helps maintain and increase joint mobility.


    • Doing too many high-impact exercises. Joint injury can occur more easily during high-impact activities. It’s a common belief that high-impact means “hard” and low-impact means “easy,” but these actually describe the intensity of your body striking the ground. If one or both of your feet is off the ground, even for a split second (such as when you run or jump), the exercise is high-impact, meaning your body has to absorb a higher impact of shock when you come in contact with the ground. Because high-impact exercises put more stress on the joints and skeletal system, they actually help strengthen bones, reducing the risk of 15482594_xxlosteoporosis. However, the higher the impact, the greater the injury potential. Assuming you have a doctor’s clearance and take good care of your body, you can still perform high-impact activities safely when you take certain precautions (like using proper form). But more importantly, aiming for a variety of impact levels in your workouts is ideal. Too much high-impact is, well, too much for the joints. If you are looking for activities that are easier on the joints, there are a number of options available. Swimming, water exercise and biking are all no-impact cardiovascular workouts. Some low-impact options include walking, biking and the elliptical. Just because an activity doesn’t involve lots of running and jumping doesn’t mean it can’t be a great workout. As long as the activity is challenging and gets your heart rate up into the cardio zone, you’ll be on your way to losing weight and improving your fitness level.


    • Skimping on rest. Most people think that exercise itself is what leads you to be stronger and fitter, but it’s actually the rest that happens after a workout that creates those positive changes in your body. When it comes to getting results and protecting your joints, rest is just as important as exercising with good form. You aren’t being lazy by taking rest days, you’re being smart. Taking days off from exercise helps prevent overuse injuries, stress fractures, and joint inflammation that can lead to pain. Recovery is the time your body uses to adapt to the stresses you’ve put on it, as well as repair tissues that were damaged during your child-ankle-pain-causes-treatments-245x300workouts. If you avoid rest days and don’t give your muscles and joints a chance to recover, you’ll continue to break the body down instead of making it stronger. A good rule of thumb is to allow for 1-2 rest days per week. This doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch all day and do nothing. It’s OK to do some light activity, like go for a walk or do an easy yoga session. But your activity shouldn’t be intense or challenging. Your body–and your joints–need the time to rest and repair.

It’s easy to assume that older adults or those with previous injuries are most at risk for joint problems, but the fact is, anyone can experience joint pain or injury if they aren’t careful.  If you are new to exercise, or if you have had joint problems in the past, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor or work with a qualified personal trainer before you start an exercise plan. These professionals can give you personalized advice based on your medical history and offer tips to help you have a safer workout.synotrex (1)

While there is some inherent risk in any type of exercise, the benefits of working out regularly far outweigh the risks for most people. With attention to the prevention and safety tips above, you’ll be strengthening and protecting your joints for the rest of your life by exercising your body regularly.

BONUS: Taking a supplement that helps nourish the joints is an exceptionally smart idea. One that I personally take is Synotrex. It’s all natural and contains Glucosamine Sulfate and Chondroitin.

Tristan "Lucky"
Written by: Tristan “Lucky”