Exercise to Avoid Joint Pain
Move Beyond Joint Pain: Targeted Stretches and Exercises to Help You Stay Active
Whether you are a seasoned exerciser, or just thinking about becoming more active, you may find yourself sidelined by occasional shoulder, hip or knee pain. Joint pain can be caused by a variety of reasons, including arthritis, injury from overuse, and the natural aging process.
If you experience persistent joint pain that interferes with your daily activities, a visit to an orthopedic surgeon is probably in order to address the underlying cause. But for those mild yet nagging aches and pains that keep you on the couch, the cure may very well be to keep moving. By combining low-impact exercise–such as aerobics and swimming–with a regular stretching routine, you can reduce joint swelling while staying active.
Stretching is a great way to reduce joint stiffness before and after a workout, and it can be especially effective for managing joint pain if it targets trouble spots. Try these targeted stretches to reduce stiffness in your shoulders, hips, and knees before your next workout:
- Shoulder roll: Roll your shoulders up and back in a circular motion 3-4 times, and repeat as needed before lifting weights or using exercise equipment (such as an elliptical) that engages the upper body.
- Hip flex: While seated on a bench or straight-backed chair, extend your leg and then gently bend it so that your ankle is resting on the opposite knee. Hold for a few moments until you feel the hip relax, then repeat with the opposite leg.
- Knee curl: Stand with one leg slightly elevated. Gently flex your knee back and forth several times (without hyperextending it) to reduce stiffness in the joint. Repeat with the opposite knee.
By choosing activities such as swimming, cycling, and low-impact aerobics, you can reduce joint swelling as you reap cardiovascular benefits.
- Swimming is a natural choice because, thanks to buoyancy, there is minimal impact on your joints. You can strengthen your shoulders and knees while developing long, lean muscles–without ever touching the ground.
- A bike ride on a flat, smooth trail (without steep hills and rocky terrain) is also a great low-impact choice to flex your knees and get your heart pumping.
- Finally, a low-impact aerobics routine that incorporates a stability ball or light dance moves (versus the jumping, squats, and lunges associated with the high-impact version), is also a great way to get an effective workout while protecting your knees and hips.
By combining a stretching routine with activities that are easy on your shoulders, hips and knees, you can stay active while reducing the effects of joint pain.