Anyone who has lived long enough will suffer from some type of chronic pain. An estimated 100 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain, according to the WebMD site. A typical example of such pain is that of arthritis or inflammation of joints. This condition is extremely common in those who have engaged in weight training for many years. Often called a "wear and tear" disease, arthritis results from a long-standing strain on various joints and connective tissue in the body. However, many scientists say that arthritis is not inevitable. Indeed, in a recent discussion I had with champion bodybuilder Robby Robinson when I asked him what type of chronic pain he experienced, he told me "none." Robby, however, at age 72 is a rare exception to the rule. I've known countless bodybuilders, athletes, and strength athletes and nearly all experienced some type of chronic pain, with the most common being arthritis. I am no exception to that rule, either. After training for 57 years I have knee arthritis and chronic shoulder pain. This pain, while not debilitating, nonetheless limits my workouts in terms of how much weight I can lift. Years ago, I tended to lift very heavy weights most of the time in an effort to build more muscle mass and strength. What I didn't realize at the time was that some of the exercises that I did placed inordinate stress on my joints, particularly that of the knees and shoulders. For example, I used to do a type of hack squat where I would use a close leg stance with my knees touching each other. The problem with this (which I didn't know at the time) was that this position produced a concentrated shearing effect on the cartilage in my knees. Over a course of 30 years of doing this form of hack squat, I had literally shaved away my knee cartilage! As a result, today I have arthritis in both knees. I don't believe my practice of also doing heavy barbell squats contributed to this condition because my knees were never in a precarious or unnatural angle when I did the squats. The shoulder pain that I have today I attribute to doing years of two shoulder exercises: close-grip upright rows and press-behind-the-neck. Both exercises also place the shoulders in an unnatural position that wears down the shoulder joints. Even today I wince when I see people doing these exercises in the gym. I don't need a Chrystal ball to know what the future holds for them: pain.
Despite the chronic pain that I feel in my shoulders and knees, neither of them affects my lifestyle or my training, other than the necessity to lift much lighter weights than in past years. I do not take any medication to control chronic pain, but rather rely on nutrition to modulate the expression of pain. As a result, most of the time I . . .