Does Weightlifting hurt your joints if your over 50?

I started CrossFit 8 years ago and my primary concern was the health of my knees. In 2012 I was diagnosed with osteo-arthritus and had a MCL tear. My orthopedic surgeon told me that I would likely need a knee replacement by the time I was 55 if I did not make some changes. I owned a dance school and taught so my income and career relied on my ability to move well and often. Often I crawled out of bed and popped an ibuprofen and headed to the studio hoping that my knees could hold me up for my 5+ hours of teaching each day. 

My son Caleb discovered CrossFit and I watched from the sidelines with fascination. He fell in love with it and decided to take his L1 and I asked if I could join him. At the time I was also coaching boot camp classes and was always looking for ways to become a better coach. At the L1 course I learned why moving my joints through the full range of motion was the best way to strengthen the muscles that supported those joints. I learned about scaling and modifying so that I could get stronger without causing further injury to my body. 

As you age your muscles atrophy without use and the ligaments get stiff making movement either impossible or painful. When we work on our mobility and build the muscles especially the spine, hips and knees this really helps to take the strain off the joints so they do not have to do all the work. Weight lifting is one of the safest ways to build muscle because you are able to increase the load based on your strength. When we lift we cause small tears in our muscles and when it heals it is stronger much like when we get a blister and the skin that heals is thicker than it was before. The older we get the more time it takes our body to heal after a workout session. 

Here are 3 ways you can facilitate strength building and avoid injury whether you are 20 or 50 years old: 

  1. Fuel with protein and carbs both before and after your lifting session. 
  2. Listen to your coach and reduce the load when counselled to do so to maintain correct form of the lift. 
  3. Take recovery day when necessary and let the coach know if you are feeling excessively sore and need to modify workouts. 

When I started CrossFit I was not able to squat below parallel for almost a year but still trained 5 days a week. I built up the muscles surrounding my knees, gradually increasing the range of motion in my knees as my MCL tear healed. CrossFit will help to strengthen all your joints as you age helping you to live a healthier, happier life. 

Happy lifting!
Coach Tracey