Muscle for life

How to Effectively End and Prevent Joint Pain

How to Effectively End and Prevent Joint Pain

If you’re struggling with joint pain or want to make sure you don’t struggle with it in the future, you want to read this article.


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Ben Franklin once said that famous line and it has a lot of relevance to us physically active folks, especially to athletes and weightlifters.

People will rush to buy muscle builders, protein powders, hormone boosters, fat burners, and the like, but they often overlook strategies and products to improve general health and longevity, like preserving joint health.

Well, anybody who has spent some time in the gym training hard knows how vitally important healthy joints are.

More than 52 million Americans suffer from arthritis, and if your joints are inflamed or damaged, all aspects of your performance decline.

When your knees, hip, and shoulders ache, you lose speed, strength, power, and agility; you have to stop doing certain exercises and activities; you can’t handle weights you once could; and you often have to learn to deal with constant, nagging aches and pains.

Healthy joints are one of those things people just don’t fully appreciate until they’re gone.

Well, in this article, you’re going to learn the most common causes of joint pain and how to naturally and safely treat and prevent it.

What Causes Joint Pain?

what causes joint pain

Joints are places in the body where two bones connect and, in most cases, they provide structural support and allow for movement.

For example, your hip joint connects your femur to your pelvis, your knee joint connects your femur and your tibia, and your shoulder joint connects your shoulder blade to your arm (humerus).

Structurally speaking, there are three types of joints: fibrous, cartilaginous, and synovial joints.

  • Fibrous joints are connected by a dense connective tissue called collagen. These joints are all called “fixed joints” because they don’t move.

Examples of fibrous joints are those found between the bones of the skull and between certain long bones in the body like the radius and ulna.

  • Cartilaginous joints are connected by cartilage, a stiff, collagen-rich connective tissue. Cartilaginous joints allow for more movement than fibrous joints.

Examples of cartilaginous joints are the discs between your vertebrae and the first sternecostal joint, which is where your first rib connects to the breastbone.

  • Synovial joints are the most common movable joints in mammals. They are connected by intricate structures consisting of a cavity filled with fluid, a capsule enveloping it, cartilage, and, depending on the joint, various other tissues like discs, pads, tendons, ligaments, and fluid-filled saclike structures (bursae) that further reduce friction.

That’s quite a mouthful to process, so here’s an image to help:

Synovial joint

Examples of synovial joints are elbow joints, shoulder joints, wrist joints, knee joints.

What, then, causes the discomfort, aching, and soreness of joint pain?

Well, common causes include…

  • Arthritis (which we’ll talk more about soon)
  • Bursitis (inflammation of the bursae)
  • Tendonitis (tendon inflammation)
  • Tendon and/or ligament injury (strains and sprains)
  • Muscle strains
  • Bone injury (fractures and breaks)
  • Dislocation

Let’s get more specific though and talk about the most common joint pains people struggle with.

What Causes Knee Pain?

what causes knee pain

Knee pain is widespread and especially prevalent among athletes.

Common causes for knee pain are, as noted above, strains and sprains, cartilage tears, and tendon inflammation, but the complex nature of the knee joint makes it susceptible to other problems.

For example…

  • Repeated bending and kneeling can aggravate the fluid-filled sac over the kneecap.
  • Illiotibial band syndrome, which is pain caused by the aggravation of the illiotibial (IT) band–a swath of fibrous tissue (fascia) that extends from your hip to the outer part of your knee.
  • Muscle imbalances and tightness and misalignment of the legs.
  • Inflammation of the tendons surrounding your knee (patellar tendonitis is particularly common).

What Causes Hip Pain?

what causes hip pain

Like with knee pain, the most common causes of hip pain are arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis. Muscle imbalances are quite common as well.

One of areas of the hip joint that often gives athletes problems is the sacroiliac joint in the pelvis.

Here’s what it looks like:

joint pain causes

The sacroiliac joint is designed to transfer forces to and from the lower spine into the hip and legs and when it gets aggravated or injured, pain is felt in the lower back, hip, and/or legs.

The squat motion puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the sacroiliac joint, which is one of the reasons why many weightlifters in particular struggle with sacroiliac pain.

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

what causes shoulder pain

The shoulder is an intricate, extremely mobile (and rather amazing, really) joint.

It moves the shoulder forward and backward and allows the arm to move in a circular motion as well as up and away from the body.

The structure of the shoulder joint is a “ball-and-socket” design with three main bones cushioned by a layer of cartilage: the humerus (the long bone running from your shoulder to your elbow), clavicle (collarbone), and scapula (shoulder blade).

There are two main joints in the shoulder:

  • The the acromioclavicular joint. This connects the highest part of the scapula– the acromion–and the clavicle.
  • The glenohumeral joint. This is comprised of the ball-shaped top of the humerus and the socket on the scapula.

Here’s how they look:

joint pain symptoms

The shoulder’s impressive range of motion is produced and regulated by the rotator cuff, which is comprised of four muscles and their tendons: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.

Here’s a visual:

shoulder joint pain causes

Rotator cuff injuries are more common among weightlifters than the rest of the population for a couple of reasons:

  • Many people, and guys in particular, do a lot of bench pressing and shoulder pressing and not enough pulling. This causes an imbalance between the anterior and posterior muscle groups in the torso.
  • Many people also bench press with improper form, which puts the rotator cuff muscles in a compromised, injury-prone position.

What is Arthritis?

what is arthritis

Many people mistakenly think that arthritis is something unavoidable and inevitable–that we will all succumb to at some point in our lives.

Well, while we do have to accept our bodies will eventually wear out, if we take good care of our joints, they can remain healthy and functional for a long, long time.

As you know, your joints are lined with the flexible tissue cartilage, which lubricates them and absorbs physical impacts. Healthy cartilage preserves ease of motion and keeps your joints pain free.

Many people assume that regular exercise must accelerate cartilage loss through repetitive use and general wear and tear. Research shows otherwise, though.

Forms of exercise usually assumed to be harmful to your joints like weightlifting and long-distance running are not associated with cartilage loss. In fact, regular exercise appears to help preserve healthy cartilage levels.

Why, then, do so many long-term exercisers and athletes seem to suffer from joint problems? And what can be done about it?

Well, to answer those questions, let’s take a closer look at how joints lose their structural integrity, eventually resulting in arthritis.

Two common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which involve painful inflammation of the joints resulting from the gradual loss of the cartilage.

Osteoarthritis has been long believed to be a natural consequence of aging, and rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that results in joint inflammation and destruction.

Well, we now know that both conditions are at least partially caused by an unwanted destructive immune response to joint collagen that eats away at the joints. What happens is your body’s immune system incorrectly targets and attacks joint cartilage as a foreign, unwanted substance.

This can become a vicious cycle: the assault slowly destroys the joints, which causes even more inflammation, which triggers a larger immune response.

Theoretically, then, if we could stop this internal assault on your joints as well as reduce existing joint inflammation, we could dramatically improve your joint health and reduce the risk of disease and dysfunction, including arthritis.

And that’s exactly what research suggests.

Studies show that, in people with arthritic conditions, reducing inflammation and “teaching” the immune system to stop attacking proteins found in joint cartilage can significantly improve joint health and function and decrease or even eliminate pain and swelling.

There are several supplements proven to help with this. We’ll talk more about them soon.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

Is Weightlifting Bad For Your Joints?

weightlifting joint pain

The assumption that weightlifting will degrade your joints over time makes sense at first glance.

When you’re squatting, pushing, and pulling hundreds of pounds week after week, you have to wonder how healthy it is for your joints.

Fortunately, research doesn’t support these fears.

For example, this study was conducted a few decades ago with 25 competitive weightlifters.

These subjects spent a lot more time training and lifted a lot more weight than you or I probably do, and researchers were surprised to find that on the whole, their joints were as healthy or even healthier than other people their age.

Furthermore about half of the subjects admitted they were using anabolic steroids, which means their joints were subjected to loads beyond what would be normally possible.

It’s worth noting that the Olympic lifters had the most joint problems out of the group. This isn’t surprising given the risky nature of these movements and the sheer amount of weight that competitive lifters move around.

One other point worth noting is researchers found that previously injured joints were more susceptible to joint degeneration than healthy joints. So if you’ve sustained joint injuries in the past, lifting heavy weights week after week may cause them to get worse.

These findings are in line with other research conducted specifically on the squat and deadlift, which are two of the most maligned and, ironically, effective, exercises you can do.

  • Even in extreme cases of squatting, such as powerlifters lifting 2.5 times bodyweight, the compressive forces placed on the knee and its tendons are well within its ranges of ultimate strength.

In one study, the highest ACL force recorded when squatting was a mere 6% of its ultimate strength). Highest recorded PCL forces were well within natural strength limits as well.

There’s quite a bit of research that suggests that strength training, and squatting in particular, is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis, both in terms of reducing pain and improving function.

  • Research conducted by scientists at the University of Waterloo used real-time x-ray imaging to watch the spines of elite powerlifters while they fully flexed their spines with no weights and while they deadlifted over 400 pounds.

With the exception of one subject, all men completed their deadlifts within the normal range of motion during full flexion. Ligament lengths were unaffected, indicating that they don’t help support the load but instead limit range of motion.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Valencia found that the deadlift is an extremely effective way to train the paraspinal muscles, which run down both sides of your spine and play a major role in the prevention of back injuries.

So then, if weightlifting isn’t inherently bad for your joints, why do so many weightlifters seem to have shoulder, knees, and lower back problems?

How to Ruin Your Joints With Weightlifting

weight training joint pain

Despite common misconceptions, weightlifting just isn’t a very dangerous activity. You’re far more likely to get injured playing just about any sport than you are lifting weights.

That said, like with any physical activity, there’s always a risk of injury and the occasional ache or strain is inevitable.

Well, when it comes to weightlifting, the two best ways to get hurt is…

  1. try to lift too much weight; and…
  2. train with poor form.

These are the cardinal sins of weightlifting, and are what give it and the big, compound exercises a bad reputation.

You see, weightlifting just isn’t a forgiving activity if you don’t “respect” it. Get sloppy with heavy weights and bad things can happen. This doesn’t just apply to free weights either–machines can be just as “dangerous” when used improperly.

So, take the time to learn proper form and leave your ego at the door when you lift, and you’ll dramatically decrease your chance of getting hurt.

Go for that extra rep on your squat or deadlift…but don’t turn into a hunchback or turn the exercise into a Good Morning. Try to hit that PR on your bench press…but don’t flare your elbows to your ears.

Another way to get hurt is to ignore pain.

“No pain, no gain,” right? Not really.

Muscle soreness and the “burn” caused by lactic acid are very different than pain. Pain means something is wrong and trying to muscle through it is asking for trouble.

The key to dealing with pain is first, stopping whatever you’re doing, and second, treating it like an injury until it’s better.

Avoid exercises that aggravate the affected area, apply ice and heat accordingly, and let it heal.

If that means no deadlifting or squatting for a few weeks, so be it. Find alternative exercises that you can do pain free.

And trust me, I know that backing off while your body heals can be annoying. But hurting yourself and losing months of progress is much more frustrating.

5 Effective Joint Pain Remedies You Need to Try

home remedies joint pain

Ask the wrong “expert” about what you should do to relieve your joint pain and you’re going to hear drugs or surgery or both.

The problems with anti-inflammatory drugs are they just mask the problem and long-term use is a bad idea.

The problem with surgery is obvious: it’s a traumatic, risky experience that we would all rather avoid if at all possible.

Well, short-term use of drugs can give some relief and some situations necessitate surgery but if yours doesn’t (and a good sports doc can tell you), there’s a good chance the following 5 pain-relief strategies can help.

Mobility Exercises

“Unsticking” soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, and fascia) and improving movements patterns and range of motion can be very effective in relieving joint pain.

The type of exercises that accomplish this are commonly referred to as “mobility exercises,” and the right ones can work wonders.

Check out this article to learn more about how to use mobility exercises to reduce or even eliminate your joint pain.

Rest, Ice, and Heat

The most important part of recovery is rest.

That doesn’t mean immobility but it does mean you have to not do things that are going to impair healing and recovery.

Violate this simple principle and injuries can become chronic and debilitating.

Once a joint has fully healed and you’re ready to start training again, it’s a good idea to start with lighter weights and see how you feel over the next several days (no pain is a good sign), and gradually work back into your normal routine.

Ice helps you recover by reducing inflammation and swelling as well as internal bleeding from injured capillaries and blood vessels.








As long as there is pain and inflammation, ice will help.

Don’t apply ice for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time, but you can rotate on and off all day.

Heat stimulates blood flow, which helps your body bring nutrients to and remove waste products from the area faster.

Heat shouldn’t be introduced immediately following an injury, however.

The general advice is to ice only for the first 3 days to bring down swelling and, once this has been accomplished, introduce heat. Alternate between 15 to 20 minutes of ice and heat.


acupuncture for joint pain

As you know, abnormalities in soft tissues can cause joint pains, and research shows acupuncture can help treat this.

Specifically, needling can help release “trigger points” in the body, which are tight, painful areas of muscle that refer pain to other areas of the body.

For example, when you press on a trigger point in your neck, you might also feel pain in your shoulder (I’ve personally experienced that one).

The key here is obviously the skill and knowledge of the acupuncturist. Look for someone trained in using acupuncture for myofascial release.


Like acupuncture, research shows that massage is another effective strategy for releasing trigger points.

This can not only relieve pain but can help prevent muscular problems from developing in the first place that can, in time, cause joint pains.

Arnica Gel

Arnica gel is produced from the Arnica Montana plant and has long been used to treat inflammation and pain in the muscles and joints.

Research shows that arnica gel can be an effective way to reduce joint pain. In fact, it can be equally as effective as ibuprofen in alleviating joint pains associated with arthritis.

Here’s the product I use when I have joint pain:


Joint Supplements That Do and Don’t Work

Bone and joint health supplements comprise a multi-billion dollar market that is only getting bigger and bigger.

When people are in pain and looking for a solution, they’ll buy and try just about anything.

Before you jump on the joint supplement bandwagon, though, let’s go over your options.


If you’re boning up on joint health (har har har), you’ve heard about glucosamine.

It’s a supplement derived from shellfish and is often sold as a sure bet for relieving joint pain and improving joint health.

Well, studies show that it can provide minor pain relief but is unreliable in this mechanism.

Research also shows that glucosamine can reduce the rate of collagen loss, which is particularly relevant to people that run or participate in other high-impact activities regularly. Its collagen-preserving effects are relatively weak, though.







The bottom line is glucosamine isn’t worthless but also isn’t nearly as effective as many supplement companies claim.

It’s not the most popular joint supplement because it’s the best. It’s just cheap to produce (great profit margins) and heavily marketed.

If you want to get the absolute most out of a joint supplementation regimen and don’t have a budget, it makes sense to include glucosamine in it.

The clinically effective dosage of glucosamine is 900 to 1,500 mg per day, and here’s the product I personally use:



Chondroitin is an major constituent of collagen and is frequently paired with glucosamine to treat the symptoms of arthritis.

Research casts doubt on its effectiveness, though.

Based on the scope and quality of the more recent research on chondroitin, my recommendation is save your money.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM is a sulfur-containing chemical found in plants, animals, and humans. It’s often paired with glucosamine because of its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies show that MSM has promise for treatment of arthritis but more rigorous research is needed.

Many people report that MSM relieves their joint pain so, like glucosamine, I think it’s worth including if budget isn’t a concern.

The clinically effective dosage of MSM appears to be around 3,000 mg per day, and again, here’s the product I personally use:



Curcumin is the yellow pigment found in the turmeric plant, which is the main spice in curry. It has been used therapeutically in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

Its health benefits are extensive, and scientific researchers around the world are investigating applications for fighting a variety of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and more.

One reason for this is that curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which are exerted by inhibiting proteins that trigger the production of inflammatory chemicals.

Curcumin has a significant downside, however: intestinal absorption is very poor. So much so that supplementation without enhancement more or less eliminates the majority of its health benefits.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution for increasing bioavailability: black pepper extract.

Research shows that pairing black pepper extract with curcumin increases bioavailability twentyfold. And when you do that, curcumin becomes an effective joint support supplement.

Studies show that supplementation with curcumin and black pepper extract reduces inflammatory signals in the joints and, in those with arthritis, relieves pain and stiffness and improves mobility.

When paired with piperine, the clinically effective dosages of curcumin range between 200 and 500 milligrams.

Given its powerful anti-inflammatory effects and long list of additional health benefits, curcumin is on my “highly recommended” list for both joint and general health.

And that’s why I included 500 mg of curcumin and 25 mg of piperine in each serving of my joint supplement, FORTIFY.


That’s only the beginning of what FORTIFY has to offer, though.

It also contains clinically effective dosages of three more molecules shown to alleviate joint pain and improve joint health.

Let’s take a look at each.

Undenatured Type II Colagen

Collagen is the main protein of the various connective tissues in animals and type II collagen (CII) is a type of collagen that makes up your joint cartilage.

“Undenatured” is more than a fancy word—it’s vitally important to the effectiveness of the product.

Denaturization is the alteration of the natural structure of a substance, usually by the addition of another chemical or heat that changes the substance’s physical properties.

Typical commercial processing of collagen causes alterations to its basic form (denaturization), and research shows that denatured collagen has no beneficial effects on joint inflammation.

Undenatured collagen, however, is a more natural form of the substance and research shows that the UC II® undenatured type II collagen is highly effective for regulating the immune response that inflames joints and destroys cartilage and bone, which further inflames the joints and starts a degenerative cycle. 

And the best part about undenatured type II collagen is that these effects have been demonstrated in people with arthritic conditions and people with healthy joints.

It accomplishes this by “teaching” the body’s immune system to stop attacking collagen as a foreign substance, which is the cause of some arthritic conditions. Orally ingesting CII works almost like a vaccine, resulting in less of an inflammatory response to your own collagen because the body now recognizes it.

The clinically effective dosages of undenatured type II collagen range between 10 and 40 milligrams.

Undenatured type II collagen isn’t cheap but research shows it’s one of the most effective supplements you can take for preserving your joint health. I highly recommend it.

That’s why my joint supplement FORTIFY contains 10 milligrams of undenatured type II collagen per serving.

I chose the lower end of the clinically effective dosage because it isn’t clear if more is better. Research clearly shows that 10 mg is effective but not that two, three, or four times that amount is more so.


Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia serrata is a plant that produces an aromatic substance known as frankinsence, which has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various disorders related to inflammation.

Thanks to modern science, we now know why.

Frankinsence contains molecules known asboswellic acids. Research shows that, like curcumin, boswellic acids—and one in particular known as acetyl-keto-beta-boswellic acid, or AKBA—inhibit the production of several proteins that cause inflammation in the body.

And in case you’re wondering, the difference between the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of curcumin and boswellic acids is they work on different enzymes. Curcumin inhibits an enzyme known as cyclooxygenase, or COX, and boswellic acids inbhibit lysyl oxidase, or LOX (and, most notably, 5-LOX).

These anti-inflammatory properties extend to the joints, which is why studies show that Boswellia serrata is an effective treatment for reducing joint inflammation and pain as well as inhibiting the autoimmune response that eats away at joint cartilage and eventually causes arthritis.

The clinically effective dosages of boswellia serrata range between 100 and 200 milligrams.

What can I say…I’m a fan of this molecule. Its powerful anti-inflammatory effects are not only good for your joints but for your entire body, as systemic inflammation is a known contributor to many types of disease.

FORTIFY contains 125 mg of boswellia serrata per serving.


Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract is a substance derived from the ground-up seeds of red wine grapes, which have been used in European medicine for thousands of years.

There are two molecules in grape seed extract that account for most of its health benefits: tannins, which are bitter compounds that make wine taste dry, and procyanidins, which are chains of antioxidants found in some plants.

Much of the research on grape seed extract’s beneficial effects on joint health is extrapolated from research on a similar molecule known as pycnogenol, which is also a potent source of procyanidins. Pycnogenol is significantly more expensive than grape seed extract, however, which is why GSE is preferable for supplementation needs.

Research shows that the primary way grape seed extract helps protect joint cartilage from damage caused by the pro-inflammatory immune response that can develop into arthritis.

Studies also show that supplementation with grape seed extract confers other health benefits, including the following:

Clinically effective dosages of grape seed extract range from 75 to 300 mg.

You get a lot for your money with grape seed extract. Like curcumin and boswellia serrata, it improves both joint and overall health, and is a worthwhile inclusion in your supplementation regimen.

Like curcumin and boswellia serrata, grape seed extract improves both joint and overall health, and is a worthwhile inclusion in your supplementation regimen.

FORTIFY contains 90 mg of grape seed extract per serving.



Spirulina is a non-toxic blue-green algae that is very similar to fish oil in its health benefits.

Research has shown that supplementation with spirulina can…

The anti-inflammatory effects are what help with reducing joint pain, and animal research has shown that spirulina supplementation improves joint health.

Spirulina has a lot to offer, which is why it’s in my cabinet and on my list of supplements everyone should take. Here’s the product I use:


Fish Oil

The next type of general health supplement that I highly recommend is fish oil, because it’s a great source of “omega-3 fatty acids.”

Omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid–EPA–and docosahexaenoic acid–DHA) are an essential type of fat, meaning they can’t be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from the diet.

Research shows that fish oil has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and can significantly reduce joint pain.

Studies also show that supplementation with fish oil can…

If you don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet (2 to 3 grams per day is a good target), I strongly suggest that you take a fish oil supplement.

Not all fish oils are made the same, though. There are two important things to consider when choosing one:

You want to know how the oil has been processed.

There are two forms of fish oil on the market today: the triglyceride form, and the ethyl ester form.

The triglyceride form is fish oil in its natural state, and the ethyl ester form is a processed version of the triglyceride form that includes a molecule of ethanol (alcohol).

While plenty of studies have proven the benefits of supplementation with fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs), research has shown that the triglyceride form is better absorbed by the body.

One of the reasons for this is the ethyl ester form is much more resistant to the enzymatic process by which the body breaks the oil down for use.

Another downside to the ethyl ester form is during the digestive process, your body converts it back to the triglyceride form, which results in the release of the ethanol molecule.

Although the dose is small, those with alcohol sensitivity or addiction can be negatively affected. Furthermore, research has provided evidence of cellular and organic toxicity and injury resulting from the ingestion of FAEEs

You want to know the EPA/DHA content of each serving.

Because of the varying quality of fish oils on the market, it’s important that you look at how many milligrams of EPa and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) are actually in each serving.

Lower quality supplements might have as little as 150 – 200 milligrams per 1 gram of fat, which makes them nearly worthless as you have to take far too much every day to get enough omega-3s (you want a minimum of 2 – 3 grams of omega-3s per day).

A high-quality fish oil can be quite a bit more money than a low-quality one, but when you look at how much you’re getting for that money in terms of omega-3 fatty acids, the price makes more sense.

For example, here’s the label from a cheap, low-quality (ethyl ester) fish oil product:


This product costs about $11, and comes with 100 pills containing 300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids each. This means you’re getting 30 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per bottle, and paying about 37 cents per gram.

Now, here’s the label from a high-quality triglyceride fish oil product that I use, Nordic Naturals’ Ultimate Omega:


This product costs about $40, and comes with 120 pills containing 640 mg of omega-3 fatty acids each.

This means you’re getting about 77 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per bottle, and paying about 52 cents per gram.

So, as you can see, the initial price difference of $11 vs. $40 isn’t as drastic when you look at what you’re getting:

37 cents per gram of low-quality oil that isn’t likely to deliver all of the benefits you’re looking for vs. 52 cents per gram for the highest quality oil on the market that will.

Thus, I recommend you go with the high-quality product whose nutrition facts label I showed above:


The Bottom Line on Joint Pain

Joint pain is one of those things that people tend to ignore or mask with drugs, usually without realizing that negligence can lead to chronic disease or dysfunction.

It’s unfortunate too because, in many cases, it doesn’t take too much to resolve joint pain and prevent it from reoccurring.

My personal routine is simple:

  • A series of mobility exercises for my shoulders and lower body.
  • A weekly (rather uncomfortable) massage working out tight and painful “muscle knots.”
  • Rest, ice, arnica, and heat when necessary.
  • Supplementation with glucosamine and MSM, FORTIFY, spirulina, and fish oil.

This routine keeps my joints pain free and functional and I hope it can do the same for you.


What’s your take on joint pain? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • I got Fortify the minute it came out, so I’ve been using it for going on two weeks now. It got put to its first “test” on effectiveness this morning when I went hiking, as I do a couple times a week before work. It’s a 4.25 mile hike out and back, and I have issues with my knees so usually when I am descending from my hike my knees are really feeling it by the time I get back to the bottom.

    However, this morning, I noticed that my knees weren’t feeling as bad by the end of the hike. The descent takes a lot out of them and while they certainly felt a bit tired or worn, it was noticeably less than usual and I wouldn’t consider it any more than they should be by that point in my hike.

    • Great to hear your knees seem to be doing better since you started taking Fortify. That’s what it’s for!

      Definitely let me know any other feedback or results you notice with it.

      Oh and would you mind taking a minute to write a blurb about Fortify on Amazon and Legionathletics.com? You don’t have to write much if you don’t want to and I’d appreciate more than you know. 🙂

      • Thanks Mike, I was waiting a little bit to see how it worked for me and I feel that now I’m ready to review. Also I saw your response to my email this morning so thanks for that too, I think I am going to add Fortify to my morning stack anyway!

      • Just left a glowing review on Amazon!

  • Jay Varna

    I recently started using Fortify (working well so far!) and I’d like to know make sure it is 100% vegetarian. In the article, you wrote:
    Collagen is the main protein of the various connective tissues in animals and type II collagen (CII) is a type of collagen that makes up your joint cartilage.
    So, is the collagen in Fortify synthetic? On a related note, how invested are you in providing vegetarian supplements (I believe Recharge is not currently vegetarian)?

    • Thanks Jay! I’m glad you’re liking it.

      Hmm I don’t claim that Fortify is vegetarian. The capsules are but the collagen comes from chicken breastbones.

      I haven’t really considered going 100% vegetarian…

    • Tony

      I don’t see much of a reason to go 100% vegetarian if it’ll make the supplements less effective and/or more expensive; unless there’s some evidence that synthetic collagen is a better product than chicken collagen. It’s also not logical to be opposed to the use of chicken collagen as a vegetarian (I assume you mean vegan), since the collagen is merely a byproduct of chicken farming. It would be unethical to NOT use all the parts of the chicken.

  • It seems that in my body, Super Cissus works wonderfully.

    If I’m taking Super Cissus, do I not need one of these other supplements that you recommend for joint health? or should I continue taking it in addition to these other supplements?

    • Cissus is great. It’s in my multi Triumph. I would continue taking.

  • aguy

    Great article mike. Boron looks promising as well imo. What do you think of it?


  • James Buckley

    One word: age.

    Well, age and wear and tear. Up to my mid-30s I could exercise at a high level (and compete as an athlete) almost consequence free. Now I have to think twice before I do any serious exercise, and I seize up straight away unless I make time for daily stretching and mobility.

    It’s not necessarily a bad thing – just the way it is. My training time/volume is much less than it used to be (in part because I need to make extra time for mobility and stretching). However, I haven’t reduced training intensity and have kept all my strength and fitness.

    I suppose it’d be good if I could go back in time. If I’d started training less sooner, things would likely be easier now. Trouble is, when you’re young your body doesn’t shout warnings so loud, and maybe you’re not so good at listening to what it’s trying to tell you.

  • Rikke Nørgaard Sørensen

    Ok, this is kind of crazy! Your last three articles (in particular the last three about training) have been on topics that were really, really useful for me at the exact time each one of them was published! The body composition article helped me out a lot when I was doubting the measurement I got on an Inbody scale (as I was letting you know in the comment section) and the one on shin splints was published at a really convenient time as well. This one is perfect timing, also, because I am in the process of recovering from a shoulder injury right now (my joint has been bothering me). You must be a mind reader, haha! But seriously, thanks man! 🙂

    • Haha great timing! I’m happy to hear it man.

      Hope the articles are helping! LMK if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

      • Rikke Nørgaard Sørensen

        They definitely are. I actually have one question. My physiotherapist thinks my shoulder injury is due to some inflammation or irritation in a tendon in my shoulder. Don’t know if it is the supraspinatus or the long biceps tendon but I think it might be the latter. Any tips on how to recover from this specific type of injury? It happened while I was bench pressing with probably too much weight and in retrospect I probably did not have very good form on the excercise. It sucks but I haven’t trained my arms in a little over six weeks because it made it worse. What isn’t very optimal, however, is that my job is very physically demanding and I have to lift (sometimes too heavy) boxes a lot. I really try to lift as little as possible while I’m there, but just one too heavy box of something seems to make it sooo much worse instantly.

        • Funny you bring that up because I’ve been running into a little bit of that myself. Somewhere in the bicipital groove. It happened gradually and I kept ignoring it so it’s my fault, haha.

          Anyway, are you doing any simple mobility work like smashing the tissues with a lacrosse ball, stretches, etc.? That’s what I’m doing and it’s helping a lot.

          • Rikke Nørgaard Sørensen

            Ah okay, what a coincidence. Haha, yeah, us fitness folks tend to do that, don’t we 😉 I know I do, but now I have realized that I need to give my shoulder the rest it needs. However, I think I might find another physiotherapist because I have had about 5 sessions at my current one and that seems to be a lot when it hasn’t really improved much. I try to stretch the area, but I’m not quite sure if it helps. I will try with the lacrosse ball though, thanks for the tip 🙂 I find that alternating between ice and heat on the area helps as well.

          • Yep, it happens. Just gotta deal with things as they come and listen to your body.

            These kinds of things are minimal though when working with the correct weight and keeping form in.

            Rest is probably a good idea. If you’re not happy with your PT, I agree with finding a new one.

            LMK how it goes with the ball and keep up the icing and heating!

          • Rikke Nørgaard Sørensen

            Yes, I totally agree.
            And yes, that’s also true, I have also never had an injury (if you can even call it an injury then) for more than a few weeks or even days. This one is more stubborn, though, but my new physiotherapist says it’s not even an injury anymore, more like some stiffness.
            So I guess that’s a good thing 😉 he is also into weight lifting so luckily he can guide me as to which excercises I can do, and which I cannot, something my previous PT couldn’t at all.
            Thank you for your reply!

          • That’s great. It sounds like you’re in good hands. Keep up the good work. 🙂

          • Rikke Nørgaard Sørensen

            Btw, what training frequency would you recommend for regaining muscle mass when my shoulder is fully healed? I am maintaining my physique at the moment so before my injury I have only been hitting the weights once a week in an upper and lower body split (so actually twice per week, one session for upper body and one for the lower body). This has made me able to maintain muscle mass and strength (before my injury), so how often should I train shoulders and arms when I’m healed to fully regain my muscle and strength? Twice per week?

          • Good question! Check this out:


            LMK what you think!

  • Teddy R.

    One thing people may find helpful: I’m in my early-50’s and have been weight training for most of my life. For a number of years I experienced almost chronic knee pain. I did leg work 1-2 times a week, and although joint supplements helped, I could never quite get the pain to completely go away. Sometimes, it was bad enough to keep me from doing legs all together. Then, during a leg routine change-up, I dropped Seated Leg Extensions and Lying Hamstring Curls from my routine. Within a couple of weeks, my knees felt dramatically better. I still get some pain from time to time, but dropping these two machines from my routines has allowed me to get back into squatting again. Anyone experiencing knee pain who is using these machines might consider taking a break from them to see if it helps.

  • laranevans

    Small typo. “That’s on the beginning” should be “That’s only the beginning”.

    Great article Mike. And something relevant to me. Keep up the great work!

    • Doh! Thanks for the heads up. It has been corrected. 🙂

      Glad you liked the article. Will do!

  • Geoffio

    Mike I love reading your articles. I love the way you explain it all logically, scientifically and without all the BS. They are all gems.

    • Glad you’re enjoying them!

      Thanks for the kind words and support. 🙂

  • Valerie Lewis

    Thanks Mike for the hook up on joint pain. I can surely use this gel. Also Thx for all of the great info you put out there for all of your readers.

  • Lindsay

    Thanks for this article! Re: “previously injured joints were more susceptible to joint degeneration than healthy joints. So if you’ve sustained joint injuries in the past, lifting heavy weights week after week may cause them to get worse.”

    I plan to give Fortify a try. After 3 surgeries I don’t expect my knee to ever be normal… But I still want to squat, deadlift, etc. Any suggestions for folks in the previous-injury camp who still want to lift to build muscle? Less weight/less frequency? Thanks!

    • Thanks Lindsay!

      Let me know how you like Fortify.

      You can definitely do well despite previous injuries. You just have to work around them and not be too stubborn about it, haha.

      What are your docs currently saying about what you can and can’t do?

      • Lindsay

        Thanks – will do! I’ve had teams of docs and physical therapists who say different things 😛 (I was hit by a car and had a few surgeries and PT at HSS – knee, shoulder, SI joint). One doc said never squat again (“and why are Americans so obsessed with squatting?”), my physical therapist says I should squat but not too deep (so I go with that). She has me exercising mostly for endurance, not strength. Everyone is happy with my progress because they’re measuring based on everyday functionality, not being thinner/leaner/stronger. I have kinesio tape, a jumpers knee strap, etc. I’m basically in a cycle of testing stuff out, getting stronger, getting a little too ambitious, aching like crazy, taking time off, repeat. On the bright side I’m stronger than I was pre-crash, I just have fragile old lady joints to work around now!

        • Okay cool well that’s good to know. It sounds like you’re doing the right thing and time will tell what you can and can’t do…

  • Brian In WV

    Mike. In terms of inflammation, joint tendon recovery etc. I’ve been doing a lot of research on astaxanthin. I’ve been taking it daily and seem to have noticed enhanced recovery after heavy training.

    There are a few studies out there that confirm asta helps decrease the amount of RoS from training and can even prevent additional oxidative stress Damage.

    It seems logical to supplement with asta and take in place of ibuprofen.

    What are your thoughts? Have you done much research on this ?

    • Yeah it’s good stuff. One of the molecules that’s on my list to fit in somewhere, haha.

      It’s expensive as you know but if you don’t mind, keep it in.

  • Chris

    Hey Mike , great article !! 🙂
    However i have a question regarding the wrists.
    My wrists hurt sometimes due to tension in my forearm and i was wondering what you are doing to keep them going ? 🙂

    • You should apply the points from the article! 🙂

      Aside from that, I’d take a break from any exercises that cause pain or at least work with lighter weight and go higher rep.


      • Chris

        Yeah a break wouldnt hurt i guess ;D
        I think its due to a triggerpoint which puts some strain on the wrist :/
        Btw pulse is awesome !!

        • Doh sorry for the late reply. Just seeing this now.

          Glad you’re liking Pulse!

  • Fernando

    Hey, Mike! How’s it going?
    So, I’m now in the beginning of Phase 3 from BLS. I’m 5’8 and currently 143lbs. I’m getting stronger and bigger than when I started, no question, although I recently started having quite a few nagging problems. I sprained my wrist incline pressing around a month ago, but it’s better now. But now, I have a weird pain in my shoulders, especially my right one, when I do Lateral Raises, and my right elbow hurts when I do barbell curls, both being inflammed-feeling type aches. I’m worried that, because I started and still am pretty skinny, my body is just getting fcked from heavy training :/
    I’m really serious about my training and eating, and the same goes for trying hard to keep good form, of course, and it’s pretty shitty to still have these things happen. What do you think I should do? Also, I’ve read your article about mobility but I don’t quite get how to figure out if I need them, and which of the thousands of the exercises listed in the article I should be doing. I really enjoy training and don’t wanna need to stop! Thanks!!

  • Daniel Cole

    Hey Mike,
    What would be some quick advice for dealing with tricep tendonitis? I went to the doctor and they said it’s tricep tendonitis and they gave me the typical advice – ibuprofen, ice daily and 6-7 weeks of no upper body lifting. Have you had clients in the past who have suffered from this and if so what did you suggest? Also I’m 21 and healthy, so I’m not old and worn out or anything like that.
    I also purchased fortify and I have been using that while not training. Is that supplement useful for this? and is it worth taking if I’m resting and only doing legs once a week?

  • CE

    Hey Mike, thanks for this article, very helpful. Just so I’m clear: the

    Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega label above says total omega-3s 1280mg per serving, but it lists a serving as two tablets. You say we want a minimum of ‘2 – 3 grams of omega-3s per day’, so should we be taking four tablets a day? If so, why have Nordic Naturals, after making a good product, suggested taken less than an effective dose?

    Best wishes, CE

    • Glad you liked it!

      That’s right. Because they want the bottle to last longer.

  • Jonathan Stringer

    Hey Mike, very helpful article. Quick question: You say that fortify has ingredients that reduce inflammation and pain which sounds like a good thing. But isn’t inflammation the bodies way of healing a damaged area and pain the way the body tells you not to do something. So wouldn’t taking those away be a bad thing? I guess this also applies to taking anti inflammatories for shin splints or icing shins. Just curious because i’m thinking about investing in Fortify. And sorry if this question has been answered but I couldn’t find it. Thanks!

    • Thanks Jonathan!

      When we’re talking some things, a certain degree of inflammation is definitely a good thing but too much and too long is bad (especially in the context of joints).

  • Paul

    Hi Mike,
    I am nearing the end of my cut and have reached my BMR. I have a few more weeks to go before I reach my goal and was thinking of possibly reverse dieting to get back up to TDEE and then finish my cut. However, I recently starting feeling some tenderness in my shoulder during full extension. I saw my doctor and he thinks it may be tendonitis. He is referring me to an orthopedic just to be sure.

    My question revolves around the following: I will most likely be asked to take 2-3 weeks off from the gym to relieve the issue if is indeed tendonitis, during this time, how should I proceed with my diet? Should I simply stay at BMR while not working out for the 2-3 weeks or can I start reverse dieting (~100 cals/ week) to TDEE? (hopefully not gain any fat during this time).

    Of course, I want to minimize any strength/muscle loss during this time. Do you recommend doing a deload weeks at this time at all? Or complete rest? Or possibly the joint strengthening exercises only mentioned in this article? Thanks for your help Mike.

    • Hey Paul,

      Sorry to hear about your shoulder. You can still work out your legs and do HIIT right? Continue to cut at BMR. If you are able to do lighter weights for your upper body at 8-10 reps, that’d be great. The weight loss should still continue, and you can reverse diet when you’re ready.

  • Rich Bobruk

    Hi Mike, I am 50 years old, have been weight training for a couple of years and using the BLS programme for about 10 months now on the 4 day split.
    I have started watching my calorie intake more as I am still carrying too much fat, so have not gotten the lean look I am after yet.
    I am 183 pounds and doing well increasing my weights all round. The trouble is that I have picked up elbow / forearm pain which I cannot shift, even with a full weeks rest. It is very frustrating and beginning to hamper my progress.
    I am wondering on my best course of action and would welcome your advice:

    Maybe a 3 day split to allow for more rest?

    Or reducing some of the exercises that stress the elbow / forearms although this is difficult as it is mostly compound exercises.

    I thought that cutting out biceps & triceps and just working chest, back, shoulders and legs may provide enough rest to recover fully?
    Ice and heat also.
    I have been concentrating on good form also, and slow steady lifts under full control.

    Any advice is more than welcome as I cannot face laying off the weights completely!

    • Hey Rich, I strongly recommend that you see a PT and get it checked out.

      • Rich Bobruk

        Thanks Roger, will do!85858585858585585858

  • Mike Superlink

    Hi Mike!

    Nice article for joints! I find your stuff trustworthy and always interesting. It’s good to know there are business people out there that are still about their stuff and zero hype. I had a question and needed some advice about a recent injury I had about two weeks ago during a back workout. I was doing my first set of heavy rowing and felt some pain in my left shoulder. Thought about it and remembering the advice from your Youtube videos didn’t let it go and saw a PT. I’m in the process of getting the shoulder treated but it seems that, according to my therapist is more about the bicep and the end of the left pec than anything else. He noticed I’m real tight on the left side which is causing the insertion between the pec and the upper biceps to clinch. Plus I also have an old lesion that they started working on to help it heal up. To top this off I also damaged the upper part of the left tricep (there is evident bruising). Aside from the PT, I was wondering if you could point me into the direction of some rehab. at home that I could do and possibly how to approach my workouts when I get back into a heavy lifting routine. I know that I can still work some other body parts like legs, forearms, cardio and so forth but chest and back may have to stay put for a bit. Any suggestions or advice you could give me would be appreciated. Best to you, Mike in Italy.

    • Thanks! Sorry to hear about the injuries. I’d just stick to the recommendations given by your PT.

      Aside from that, you can take a look at this:


      Once you’re ready to return just go light the first few weeks to be safe. Once you have the form down again and are comfortable going heavier, you can start working towards your previous numbers.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Neal

    hey mike,
    just wanna let you know you might want to add genesis and triton to the list of supplements:)

  • Luke


    What are your thoughts/research about Collagen Protein supplements. For example Dr. Axe Multi-collagen Protein. I know there at various others out there but this is the one that keeps popping up.

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