Weight Lifting: 12 Smart Stretch Mark Tips for Dedicated Gym Rats

Weight Lifting: 12 Smart Stretch Mark Tips for Dedicated Gym Rats

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In an effort to improve ourselves, many of us sign up for gym memberships. From exercise classes to weights, there are many things to do at the gym to improve your body. For some people, weight lifting is a passion. Many athletes compete for medals in weight lifting competitions all over the world. Most of us love to watch them life impossibly-heavy weights with their muscular physiques.

So how can such a good thing be so bad? When it leaves scars on your skin in the form of stretch marks. They are easy for weight lifters and bodybuilders to get, yet they are hard to eliminate. If you are a serious weight lifter or athlete, it is important that you understand why stretch marks form, what you can do to prevent them, and how you can treat the ones you may already have.

Let’s Get Physical: The Anatomy of a Stretch Mark

DermisStretch marks are the result of the stretching of the elastic middle layer of your skin, called the dermis. Your skin is composed of three layers:

  1. The top layer, the epidermis, keeps toxins from entering your body.
  2. The second layer, the dermis, produces collagen and elastic fibers, keeping your skin looking young and healthy as you age. This is the layer where stretch marks occur.
  3. The third layer, the hypodermis, is made up mostly of fat and connective tissues. As connective tissue breaks down, inflammation and then scar formation occur as the injury heals. The scarring causes stretch marks to become visible on the skin in the healing process.

Especially during periods of rapid growth, such as growth spurts during adolescence, stretch marks can appear on various parts of the skin. This is also true during pregnancy, excessive weight gain, workouts that lead to large increases in muscle mass in a short period and when steroids have been taken for several weeks or months.

Although not a health risk, stretch marks are blemishes that most of us are eager to hide or help disappear when possible. Stretch marks do not always remain permanent. It can take months or even longer to see whether they will diminish on their own or not.

A good way to explain the concept of stretch marks is by metaphor of a sock. Most socks are elastic, so they fit nice and snug around your ankle. This elastic in the sock is stretched when we take off and put on the sock.

Wear and tear, however, causes the elastic in the sock to become over-stretched to the point where the sock no longer fits so well. The same principle holds true with our skin. If you overdo it with your skin, the elastic gets torn or overstretched to a potential point of no return, causing a stretch mark.

How a Good Thing Goes Bad: Understanding the Causes of Stretch Marks

Although there are many causes of stretch marks, be they hereditary, dietary, physical, emotional or environmental, the more you know about them, the more you can prevent and treat them. As you view this list, check off in your mind which factors apply the most to you. Most people only have a few items that are relevant to them. We recommend that you pick the three most critical factors and create a plan to mitigate the factors of each. Obviously, not every factor is completely under your control; however, they include the following:

  • pregnancyExcessively Working Out
  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Loss
  • Heredity
  • Skin Type
  • Stress
  • Poor Diet

Excessively Working Out: Too Much of a Good Thing

It’s difficult to tell another person what is right for him or her when it comes to their bodies. Every person is different, and their bodies react differently to different stressors. Having said that, be aware that your skin is your largest organ of your body, and once you mess it up, it’s hard to put back together again as it was originally.

People who overdo it working out are more likely to have some stretch marks when compared to moderate workout routines. Listen to your body. If you feel like it’s too much, then it very well might be too much. The more you listen to your body, the better you will become at preventing not just stretch marks, but a number of unfavorable results.

Puberty: Growth Spurts and Stretch Marks

During puberty, boys and girls have marked growth spurts. As the skin gets pulled and stretched during this period of growth, it is not uncommon for stretch marks to appear. However, often most of these scars disappear with time. It is not uncommon, however, to have one or two scars remain throughout the rest of our lives.

There really isn’t much that you can do to prevent stretch marks during puberty. The best advice we can offer is to remember that most of these stretch marks will not last forever. Try to stay stress free and, if helpful, get reassurance for your son or daughter from a medical professional.

Pregnancy: A Stretch Mark Red Zone

Pregnancy is difficult for a number of reasons. However, one of the difficulties that is not life-threatening to the mother is the physical changes that her body must endure during the process of pregnancy. Her stomach is stretched to almost unbelievable proportions, and especially if a vigorous exercise campaign is not initiated following childbirth to tighten up the stomach and other regions, stretch marks can remain prominent on many parts of her body.

Stretch Marks: Souvenirs of Your Successful Weight Loss Efforts

weight gainMost of us have seen people who have been obese and then lost a lot of weight. This is another good example of the sock metaphor. The skin on the body has been tugged and tossed around so much that it just sags. That’s actually worse than just stretch marks; however, during the process of extreme weight gain, a person’s skin can get stretched out, leading to stretch marks.

Heredity: Thank Your Genes

Many of us are blessed with great genes that help us to look younger than our actual age. Unfortunately, the opposite can also be true. Some people look older and worse off due to genetics. There is not much to do with this one other than preventative exercise, sunscreen protection and dietary regimens to keep the body fit and cared for.

Skin Type: The Cause is in the Collagen

Different amounts of melanin and collagen levels in the skin vary for people of different ethnic backgrounds. Along with heredity, skin type affects how someone’s skin responds to aging, as well as exercise and other external factors of health and well-being.

Stress: Reduce It to Stop Stretch Marks

The skin is the largest organ of the human body. As such, it is susceptible, along with all our other major organs, to increased levels of stress. As stress is often due to psychological factors, including work, family and other unexpected events, being proactive and finding simple techniques to reduce your stress level daily will have a significant impact on looking and feeling younger years to come.

Poor Diet: Mom Was Right

Your mom was right when she told you to eat healthy fruits and veggies, because your diet is definitely a factor when it comes to skin health. Healthy skin happens because of a lot of factors, some hereditary and other environmental influences, some of which have already been named.

Staying away from processed foods and excessive use of alcohol and drugs can go along way to preserving the elasticity of the skin. All of these factors affect the skin’s ability to rebuild following scarring or stretch marks. The better we take care of our skin, the better it will take care of us.

Preventative Care: You Can Take Control Over Stretch Marks

Not SmokingAn ounce of prevention goes a long way, as the saying goes. Now that we understand what some of the causes of stretch marks are, let’s look at what we can do to prevent them from happening in the first place. The better we care at taking care of ourselves, the better opportunity we give our bodies to take care of us. The following list are some preventative actions that we can take to safeguard our health.

  • Water
  • Not Smoking
  • Balanced Diet
  • Regular Exercise
  • Vitamin C
  • Retinoic Acid Facial Cream
  • Vitamin E
  • Moisturizer
  1. Water: You should drink a lot of water during the day. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women drink 2.7 total liters of water a day and men drink 3.7 liters a day of water. The benefits of water are abundant. As it pertains to the prevention of stretch marks, water keeps cells hydrated and supple. When your cells are dehydrated, your skin becomes more susceptible to developing stretch marks.
  1. Not Smoking:Smoking dries out your skin. It causes premature aging on your face with all of the muscles connected to pursing your lips. It also dries out the rest of your skin, making it more difficult for your skin to naturally remove stretch marks and other scars. Furthermore, healing is slower on the skin for people who smoke.
  1. Balanced diet:As we alluded to earlier, you want to eat more whole foods and less processed foods. Whole foods are filled with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that you will need to grow and repair your muscles after workouts. When possible, lay off the processed foods. Fruits and vegetables should replace potato chips and other snack foods to look years younger in the future.
  1. Regular Exercise:Try to gain muscle gradually over a period of time. Lifting heavy weights in an effort to develop muscles overnight, which is often seen in people who are newcomers to the world of fitness, accentuates the problem. As a result, stretch marks and weight training go hand in hand. Start with lighter weights and slowly increase the weights by working at a slow but steady pace.
    This will not only help you develop an exemplary physique but it will decrease the development of stretch marks. It’s exciting to see your body get stronger faster and add muscle mass in a short amount of time, but remember that the faster you gain muscle, the quicker your skin must stretch to accommodate your new muscle growth. The faster the skin stretches, the greater chance you will develop stretch marks.
  1. supplementsVitamin C: Taking ample amounts of vitamin C from natural foods or from supplements are a great way to help rid yourself of unsightly marks. Vitamin C is found naturally in citrus fruits like lemon, oranges and limes.
    This will not only keep your skin soft and supple, but it will also help to get rid of the toxins that have been built up in your body. Vitamin C improves your resistance to help you fight off diseases. A great way to get your daily dose of vitamin C is through supplements. Most are very inexpensive and provide a high amount of vitamin C per serving.
  1. Retinoic Acid (Facial Cream): Keeping your skin soft by adding moisturizing creams is a great addition to your bedtime routine. Use some moisturizing creams on your skin every night right after a shower when your pores are open. This will ensure that you have a high absorption rate. This will keep your skin elastic and soft, which can prevent stretch marks from appearing in the first place.
  1. Vitamin E: Once you’ve identified a stretch mark, you can use vitamin E to massage in the area of the stretch mark to help alleviate it. Vitamin E is available in oil-filled capsules. Squeeze the capsule and then mix the vitamin with olive oil. Massaging the area containing the stretch marks with the oil twice a day for a few months should help remove the marks.
  1. Moisturizer: Use a good moisturizer daily after showering and before heading to the gym for weight training is another great tip. When the cells are properly hydrated, the collagen fibers in the dermis are quite healthy. So, the chances of overstretching the dermis leading to stretch marks are greatly reduced.

Medical and Surgical Options

A local dermatologist is your best bet to employ medical or surgical strategies for stretch mark removal. There are a lot of companies who represent themselves as capable of taking care of your stretch marks. However, many of these companies use techniques and products that are not tested or supervised to the same level of quality assurance as those in dermatological offices. We recommend that you find a board certified dermatologist in your area for the treatment of your stretch marks, such as:

  • Laser therapy
  • Dermabrasion
  • Surgical removal
  • Peeling
  1. Laser therapy:Laser treatments can help to remove stretch marks completely. After several sessions with a fractional laser, many patients have reported great results. The high cost of the treatment and the multiple sessions done by a cosmetologist or cosmetic dermatologist that it requires, however, can make this procedure too pricey for those of us on a tight budget.

  1. Dermabrasion: Dermabrasion is a procedure by which the dead skin cells in the top layer of the skin are removed. It is a great way to give your skin the refreshing glow of very healthy skin. It’s a relatively painless technique that is best done at your local dermatologist’s office for best results. Usually, dermabrasion can be done in just one appointment, and you’ll be able to go back to work or go about your regular routine on the same day.
  1. Surgical Removal:There are a few types of lasers that can help to minimize stretch marks. The pulsed dye laser, for example, is great for red or dark red stretch marks. The wavelength of the laser is used to stimulate new collagen and elastin growth, which will help bring you skin back to its pre-stretch mark condition.
  1. Peeling: Chemical peels can help renew the skin by using chemicals to removing the top layer of skin. The healing process also triggers collagen production and increases cell renewal rates, helping to give you a fresh look only weeks after the procedure.

Another great tip to reduce stretch marks is to drinks lots of water as it will replenish the loss of liquids during exercise. Eat foods rich in healthy fats that contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids like fish, almonds and walnuts.

Zinc is a mineral found in mushrooms and fish which is helpful in reducing the appearance of stretch marks as it improves the skin’s texture. Vitamin A, zinc and vitamin E rich foods like pumpkins, wheat germ oil, carrots, mangos and peaches are good for overall skin tone and elasticity.

Be sure to watch what you eat and exercise regularly. One way we can reduce the risk of getting or worsening stretch marks is to avoid gaining weight. This will reduce the amount of fat we put on, and the extra unwanted stretch to out dermis.

Zinc promotes the production of collagen. By increasing the production of collagen, our skin can keep its elasticity. It’s important to take care of our bodies, especially our skin. You can always buy new socks, but you can’t buy new skin. Stay smooth with zinc.

Whenever possible, the best strategy is to prevent stretch marks before they even occur. You can do this safely in all the methods we described in this article. As life is a function of the actions we take and the habits that have, the best strategy you can employ is to make lifestyle changes that will promote healthy skin and body.

exerciseDiet, exercise, proper sleep, sun protection, reducing stress and being aware of any hereditary factors that might affect your skin are all helpful preventative measures. The level to which you should focus on each factor is individual to you. You can also find yourself a capable nutritionist, weight trainer or other trained professional to help you devise a life plan that works for you.

Try out several of these recommendations for two to three months to see if they help. If you do not see any benefit from them and they have not helped to reduce your stretch marks, you might want to contact your local dermatologist to see if they can help you further. Just make sure that if you are going to use medical professionals that you get confirmation that they are certified in the field for which you’re seeking advice or treatment.

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