Using Exercise To Increase Collagen Synthesis
Two weeks ago, I wrote a post on how to eat specifically for joint health. The guidelines mentioned in this post should help maintain strong and healthy joints for any active individual.
However, there is one other route to increased collagen synthesis and stronger joints – and it isn’t through eating. For now, let’s call it catabolic stimulus.
Now, ask yourself this – “why do I exercise or lift weights?” I’m sure the answer will be something like “build muscle,” or “increase power,” or “stay healthy,” or something else along those lines. All of those answers relate to “strengthening” your body in some sense. You want to increase your bone density, your power output, and/or your muscle size.
You break yourself down in the gym or in your basement so you can sleep that night and wake up as a stronger, healthier version of yourself. It’s through this method increase the rates of protein synthesis and bone mineralization, and CNS-output. You induce catabolism, hoping that your anabolic-capabilities can repair your body and later create growth.
So, why can’t we use this method for our joints?
Well, nobody said we can’t. There are ways of introducing a stimulus to our joints that result in growth.
Feeling lavish and want to spend lots of money? You can go out and get prolotherapy for your joints. Years ago, Dr. Gustav Hemwall found out that injecting an inflammatory solution into the joints create a “healing response” later on, and increases collagen synthesis.
I’ve actually gotten this type of treatment done on myself. It helped me overcome a chronic wrist injury, but cost me a LOT of money as it was all out-of-pocket. When I received these injection, I was given a solution of dextrose (AKA sugar water) and sodium morrhuate, which left my wrists swollen like water balloons after.
Now you don’t have to go through all of the pain and expenses I endured just to get stronger joints. You see how I mentioned exercise before as a way to catabolically stress your body to create growth? Well, your joints are part of that equation, being that they do a good job of transferring force throughout your entire skeletal system.
So, instead of sitting on your butt all day feeling sorry for yourself because you’re in pain, why not move around? As said in the 40 -Year-Old Virgin, “is it true if you don’t use, you lose it?”
In a study cited on this blog, one set of 20 repetitions was enough to spike collagen synthesis in a human tendon. The key here is not to exercise yourself into more pain and injury. If your joints are already in pain, you’re starting off with much less room for error.
Are you out of shape and do nothing all day, but still have aching joints? Then start moving around and allow your joints to grow.
Hurt yourself shoulder or elbow during a 1-rep max PR on the bench press and the pain hasn’t subsided yet? Then try out some high-repetition pushups for a while and build back up to the bench press.
Backpacking and hiking is wrecking your knees? Try cutting back on the weight carried for a while, or maybe just walk in the park instead in the meantime.
Simple changes can make a world of difference for the strength of your joints.