Most people know that they need to do some exercise in order to stay healthy, but when joint pain comes into the picture, working out can become more of a chore than it used to be. If only it didn’t hurt so much!
Can you relate?
Regular exercisers often find their fitness routines are derailed by painful joints, including sore hips and knees, aching backs, and stiff necks. We see many patients whose good intentions are defeated by pain. These patients are often afraid to keep exercising in case things get even worse.
You Can Stop the Vicious Cycle of Exercise and Aching Joints
It doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, working out can help joint pain. Research shows that regular exercise is an effective way to reduce inflammation in sore joints and improve pain tolerance.
The key is to adjust your workout routine. And that doesn’t necessarily mean reducing the intensity of your workouts or settling for a lower fitness level. Instead, focus on what your body can do, and enlist the help of a physiotherapist to adjust your routine for pain reduction.
Here are some tips to keep you moving while still protecting your joints.
How to Protect Your Joints During Exercise:
1 - Expand your cardio options
If you think you always need to run or jump in order to get a good workout, think again. Plenty of low-impact activities can raise your heart rate without pounding your joints.
Swimming, cycling, rowing, and brisk walking are just a few ideas for joint-friendly activities that can protect your muscles and joints from stiffness and get your blood flowing. That’s important because blood flow can help your recovery.
Mind-body exercises can also protect your joints. Yoga and Pilates improve your core strength, flexibility, and balance, thus reducing your risk of further injuries. And you might be surprised by the cardio effect of a power yoga class!
2 - Don’t skip warm-ups
Your joints need some time to loosen up a bit before you start any intense exercise. Warming up starts to trigger the production of synovial fluid, which lubricates and cushions your joints, so take some time to ease into exercise. Just a few minutes of light movement is enough to get ready.
However, listen to your body and take more time if you need to. You may find that some days need longer warm-ups than others.
3 - Build up your strength
Stronger muscles help support your ligaments, reducing the likelihood of joint pain. In addition, strength training stimulates the lubrication your joints.
If you’ve never lifted weights before, start slowly and ask for guidance from a trainer – proper form is essential. As well, don’t work the same muscles on consecutive days, and always listen to your body.
Remember that resting is part of the muscle-building process, so build some rest days into your schedule.
4 - Mix up your routine
Doing the same movements repeatedly can lead to overuse injuries, not to mention boredom. Mix up your routine! With so many fun activities out there, you have plenty of choices.
5 - Don’t forget to stretch
When you finish working out, it’s often tempting to call it a day and skip the stretch at the end - but keeping your muscles flexible will help to reduce joint pain. When you’re stiff, your muscles and tendons have a limited range of motion, which causes your joints to seize up. Stretching after every workout, focusing on the muscles you used most, will help keep you limber.
Movement is a Gift we can Give to Ourselves
Regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. Every part of your body can benefit from movement, so don’t let joint pain stop you from experiencing the benefits.
By finding a routine that works for you, you can integrate a fitness schedule into your life. Remember: exercise should enhance your life, not hurt your body.
The team at Life Force Physio
Life Force Physio is a local physiotherapy clinic serving Etobicoke and Mississauga (Toronto). Our team of Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists and Kinesiologists is passionate in their level of care, and believes better health is an achievable goal for everyone. We run a Physiotherapist Supervised Gym designed to support your healing, rehabilitation and ongoing fitness safely and at your pace. Located at Burnhamthorpe Rd and The West Mall.