How to Exercise With Joint Pain
A common misconception about exercise is that it worsens joint pain and arthritis, however that is not the case. While exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain, it helps reduce chronic inflammation. In fact, exercise is crucial for people with arthritis. It helps increase strength, flexibility, and reduces joint pain. This doesn’t mean that you have to run a marathon in order to experience the benefits, moderate exercise is more than enough. Though you may think exercising will worsen your joint pain, a lack of exercise is actually worse for your joints.
The less you move, the weaker and more stiff your joints become. So now that we have established how important exercise is for joint pain, whats the next step? Figuring out how to get a good workout when you have joint issues can be a bit tricky, but it’s not impossible. Here are a few simple tips to help you along the way.
#1: Don’t Skip the Warmup
While warming up may seem like a waste of time, that really isn’t the case. Jumping straight into a workout without warming up can increase joint pain and make your workout experience a lot more difficult. Joints hurt a lot more when your muscles and tendons are stiff. Doing a quick warmup helps increase blood flow and tissue flexibility, which prepares your muscles for the task at hand. A warmup doesn’t have to be super complicated or intense, a simple five minute walk is enough to decrease your risk of joint pain.
#2: Flexibility, Strengthening, and Cardiovascular
There are certain exercises that are better at easing joint pain than others. If you have joint pain, you should focus on three types of exercises: flexibility, strengthening, and aerobic. It is important to start out slow, rather than introducing a relentless workout routine right from the get-go. By focusing on these types of exercises, you can optimize your workout experience and see more results.
- Flexibility: By focusing on flexibility, you can improve your range of motion which helps reduce stiffness. Start by stretching a little bit each day and add more stretches as your flexibility increases. Yoga is also a great exercise to do when you have joint pain, as it improves your coordination and balance. It also helps to relax your body which can reduce joint inflammation. Yoga also improves your flexibility and joint function, which helps to reduce joint pain.
- Strengthening: Having strong muscles is crucial for anyone, especially those with joint issues. Strong muscles help support and protect joints, and make daily tasks a lot easier. Start with something small, like wall push-ups or standing lunges and then work your way up. Once you are comfortable exercising without weights, introduce some light weights. Start with weights around 2-5 pounds, and build your endurance over time.
- Cardiovascular: Low intensity exercises that get your heart rate up are great for those with joint issues. These types of exercises are gentle on your joints, but still allow you to get a good cardiovascular workout. Going for a quick walk or bike ride is a good place to start, and you can increase the amount of time you do these activities as your endurance builds.
#3: Jump in the Water
Exercising in the water creates a little to no impact environment, which takes the weight off your joints. Water also provides resistance, allowing you to strengthen the muscles that support your joints. Don’t be afraid to exercise in deeper water, because it adds more support and lessens the impact on your joints. Start with some leisurely swimming and then add to your routine overtime. In order to avoid shoulder pain, stick to the breaststroke. Once you feel comfortable with the basics, add a resistance band in order to strengthen your muscles even more.
#4: Modify and Use Props to Ease Pain
Its okay to modify exercises a bit in order to make them more efficient and less painful. In order to take pressure off your wrists when doing planks, try doing them on your forearms instead. When it comes to push-ups, try using yoga blocks to keep your wrists straight instead of having your hands on the floor. Pretty much any exercise can be modified in order to make it more comfortable, so don’t feel guilty if you have to tweak them a bit.
#5: Mix Things Up
Doing the same routine day in and day out can get pretty boring, and it puts more stress on your joints. When your muscles are weak from overuse, your joints have to take on a majority of the impact. This is especially disastrous for those with arthritis and joint pain, as it only adds to the discomfort. You can combat this by mixing higher impact activities with low impact ones such as: yoga, Pilates, or biking.
Working out if you have joint issues can be a bit stressful, but it has so many benefits. Finding a good mix of exercises that work well for you will make the experience more enjoyable and more rewarding. Hopefully these tips will help you get the most out of a work out, even if you have joint pain. If you are interested in learning more about how to live a healthy lifestyle, try contacting AboveFit Training. We have helped many realize their fitness goals through a personalized and holistic approach.