It seems counterintuitive, but it’s a familiar problem for anyone with joint pain: Exercising less because of joint pain actually makes the joint pain worse. So it only stands to reason that regular exercise not only can ease joint pain, it can also help improve daily function, decrease depression and fatigue and improve sleep, among other great benefits.
As the Mayo Clinic points out, exercising your joint pain away makes you more flexible, stronger, gives you more energy and keeps your weight in check. But it won’t happen overnight; experts recommend starting slow and working your way to daily exercises to relieve joint pain. Here are a few exercise techniques to get you started.
One of the best ways to relieve joint pain is to stretch your muscles and soothe your joints in water. Swimming laps or taking part in a water aerobics class can help you keep weight off and is a no-impact way to move your knees, hips, back, elbows and shoulders.
As with swimming, bicycling loosens up joints with minimal impact. Choose the right bike (and the right gear, including a helmet) that doesn’t put stress on your shoulders or arms, and you can be off on the road to great sights and increased mobility.
Prevention recommends using a foam roller to help achy joints. Using a roller to loosen the muscles around the joint creates gentle compression that helps rehydrate the fascia—the elastic, fibrous connective tissue that supports, binds or separates your other tissues, joints and organs—that get brittle with age. By rolling before a workout, or even just doing it three times a week, your joints will thank you.
Walking is an easy, free way to relieve joint pain. If you’re just starting to exercise, go around the block. Slowly work your way up to longer walks . You can also walk the dog, grab your neighbor for a walk-and-gab session, or treat it like an adventure and ask your child or grandchild to go with you to see something new.
Raising your arms above your head, rolling your shoulders backward and forward or slowly stretching your legs forward while in a seated position all can increase your flexibility and can be done daily. These exercises are a good way to begin your new exercise routine.
Lifting weights at low amounts with several repetitions helps build muscles around joints that help support movement. Here is a good step-by-step guide to get you started.
Putter around the yard.
By doing simple chores like raking, pulling weeds or planting tulip bulbs, you’re giving your joints a gentle workout and getting a little vitamin D that’s also good for bone health. Just remember to slather on the sunscreen.
For information on the Rehabilitation Center at Fisher-Titus Medical Center, visit https://www.fisher-titus.org/hospital-services/rehabilitation-center.html.