Joint pain and stiffness might seem impossible to avoid, but with the right preparation we can give our joints some help.
Resting your joints isn’t always the best for your joints as your joints need movement to improve overall joint health.
Joint pain can be significantly alleviated through some simple exercises.
Exercise not only helps to keep your joints flexible and strong, but it can also help you lose weight to take even more stress and strain off the health of your joints. For every pound you lose, you take 4 lbs. of pressure off your knees and 6 pounds off your hips. However, there are some joint conditions that can become worse with exercise so make sure to consult with your doctor to ensure you won’t cause any pain or aggravate existing pain.
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It is highly recommended that you consider investing in some joint braces to help specifically support your joints that are painful and/or weak thus preventing future injuries. There are braces for knees, ankles, wrists, and elbows available at sporting goods stores or online.
Before you begin exercising please be aware that if any movements are causing you pain please stop doing them. The “no pain, no gain” motto does not apply to joint health exercises.
Here are some simple exercises for healthier joints:
- Warm up
Be sure that you warm up with gentle movements to get your body ready for a workout. Side bends, shoulder shrugs, arm circles, in place lunges and bending toward your toes are all good warm-up moves. Repeat each one three to five times.
Running is too jarring on the joints. Research has shown that brisk walking helps to circulate the blood to avoid swelling and pain. Running also boosts your metabolism, which can help with weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. A great goal is to walk 30 minutes at least five times per week (daily is the best).
- Elliptical machine
Elliptical machines are a great option because they create smooth movements for your knees instead of the high impact of running as well as they are an aerobic exercise.
Another great cardio exercise is cycling. If you don’t want to cycle outdoors due to safety or weather, there are stationary bikes you can buy for your home or use at a gym. Spinning classes at gyms are another cycling option.
Swimming is one of the best types of exercises for your joints. Not only does it work every single muscle in the body, but it takes the weight off your joints while you’re doing it.
An extra benefit to aerobic or cardio exercise is that it also benefits your heart.
- Yoga/Tai Chi
Yoga strengthens the muscles and tendons around your joints as well as increases your flexibility. Being more flexible means that the tissues around your joints are more likely to stretch instead of tear, reducing pain and possible injury.
Tai Chi offers many of the same benefits as yoga. By using slow, controlled movements you boost your joint flexibility and improve your core strength.
- Stretching exercises
By gently pulling and therefore stretching your muscles, you are creating greater flexibility and relaxing tense muscles around your joints. Stretching exercises will help your joints move through their full range of motion and enable your muscles to work most effectively. It also increases the blood flow to your muscles, thus improving your circulation (another benefit to your heart). Most stretching exercises should be held for 15-30 seconds and done 2-4 times on each side. There are many stretching exercise videos to watch online and/or have a certified personal trainer advise you how to do them properly.
- Strength training
Remember that strong muscles will help to keep weight off your joints. It’s not just your legs that need to built up for your knee joints. Also building your arm muscles will help to protect your wrist, shoulder, and elbow joints. Be sure that you don’t use too heavy of weights; it is better to do more repetitions than injury yourself with heavy weights. To avoid injury, you should talk to a certified personal trainer to help design the best strengthening program for you.
There are many different exercises to help alleviate joint pain. A combination of cardio, stretching and strength exercises is your best for optimal joint health.
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