Guest Author - Terri Johansen
Joint pain either from arthritis, aging, or other causes, can be frustrating. You want some type of activity that can help relieve pain and keep you healthy, but you hurt too much to exercise. Studies show that exercising can actually reduce arthritis pain and may be just what you need. Inactivity will cause you to lose muscle strength, and decrease the range motion of your joints.
General Types of Joint Friendly Exercise
•Try low-impact exercises, they will help build bone and endurance. Thirty minutes of low-impact exercise 3-5 days per week is recommended for ultimate health benefits. Here are some choices:
o Try cardio machines such as treadmills, bicycles, and elliptical trainers.
o Walking indoors or out is the perfect exercise. It is weight-bearing which will increase muscle mass and bone density.
o Yoga increases your flexibility which is important for healthy joints. It is also very strengthening and will help you keep your balance.
o Pilates is a great way to strengthen your core. The core starts at the top of the neck and runs down to your pelvis. Pilates is easy on the joints while it builds a strong core.
o Water exercise is especially good for those with constant and/or intense joint pain. Merely walking in a warm pool will provide relief and strengthen your legs.
o Bicycling whether indoors or out is a great way to get your low-impact exercise. If you have joint pain you will want to ride at a lower resistance.
o Tai Chi and Qi Gong. While they are not the same thing they are very similar in their movements. Gentle slow movements are good for stretching, providing range of motion, and balance.
o Weight lifting is a weight-bearing exercise and strengthens muscles and bones. There are different options for resistance training such as: elastic bands, dumbbells, or weight machines. You can workout with light weights even if your joints ache.
Here are a few specific exercises to try for joint pain relief:
•Partial Squats. Use this modification of the traditional squat to protect your knees. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and pointed straight ahead with your back against a wall. Slowly squat, bending your knees, into a position such as sitting in a chair. Adjust the depth of the squat based on your individual ability. To provide an alternative, use a stability ball placed behind your back. The ball will assist you in sliding up and down the wall. Start slow with 5-8 repetitions (reps).
•Chair Stand. Sit in a normal-height chair, stand up, and sit down. Make sure your movements are slow and controlled. Do this without using your arms for assistance. If this movement is difficult try using a higher chair and you can use your arms until you are ready to stand without assistance. Repeat as often as you can.
•Thigh Exercises. Sit on the floor or a bed with one leg stretched straight out and holding the other knee bent against your body. Tighten the straight leg strongly; keep this muscle tightened for a count of 5 then release. Repeat this movement 5-8-10 times depending on your ability, build up to 10 reps.
In this same seated position lift the extended leg 2-3 inches up from the floor. Pull up on the kneecap as you lift and lower. Work your way up to 10 reps.
•Exercise your hands
o With your arms lifted to chest level, press the palms of our hands together and apply pressure, holding for a count of 5. Do 5 repetitions.
o Stretch your fingers by extending your arms straight out and make a fist. Open and extend your fingers wide. Repeat the fist and open 20 times with each hand.
o Keep your wrists flexible. Place your left forearm on a table or counter top. Use your right hand to take the fingers of your left hand and bend your left hand at the wrist. Slowly move it up and down. Try for 20 reps.
There are a great variety of exercises that can be done to help relieve and prevent joint pain. The exercises are simple and very effective.
Always consult with a medical professional before you start these or any exercise. Be healthy, be happy!
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