Guest Author - Terri Johansen
Your joints connect your bones together; they are the root of your ability to move. Exercise can keep your joints healthy with active but moderate movement. The joints are attach the bones throughout your body to keep it functioning properly so your movement is smooth and uncompromised. Painful joints in the hand make it hard to reach, grasp, button your shirt, or tie your shoes. Damaged hip or knee joints can make walking difficult or impossible. Your back has many joints and a healthy back results in superior movement and stability in the entire body. There is not an accurate count of joints in the body but an estimate for a healthy adult would between mid-200s to 300.
Joint Discomfort and Disease
The most common ailment causing joint pain and damage is arthritis. Arthritis can be an autoimmune system disease in the form of Rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms are most often painful, red, swollen joints, and sometimes bone deformity. There are other autoimmune diseases that can cause joint pain and swelling such as Cohn’s disease, Lupus, or Fibromyalgia.
Arthritis can also be a degenerative joint disease due to an injury or overuse. In this case tissue damage ensues and joint fluid can be cut off, causing stiffness and pain. It can make it quite difficult to use the joint or not be able to use it at all.
A healthy lifestyle with exercise can keep joints healthy.
Exercise is proven to provide relief for joint pain. Everyone can exercise, but it is very important to have it approved by your doctor. Here are some exercise tips:
•For joint health, keep moving. You may hesitate to exercise because you are already in pain and are afraid it will increase. Exercise, typically will not increase joint pain as long as you choose the right exercise and a moderate intensity.
•Exercise strengthens the muscles around your joints, which will increase your bone mass and joint stability.
•Strengthen your core. Strong abs and back will help you be steady and less likely to lose your balance or fall.
•Choose the right exercise. Walking, stationary biking, and especially water exercise are non-impact aerobic choices that will not jar your joints.
•Choose the right intensity. If your joints begin to feel painful after or during exercise you might want to reconsider how hard or fast you are going. It is important to stay within your own pre-determined range of ability.
•Exercise can help you lose weight, and therefore less pressure on stressed joints.
•Exercise and activities can be modified to fit your individual needs. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Talk to your instructor and together develop modifications or perhaps she will recommend a class more suited to your needs.
•You can expect to feel muscle soreness the first few days you work out, but as you continue to exercise this soreness should disappear. If it doesn’t then it is time to change your workout. Go slow; don’t try to do too much too soon, too hard.
•Protect yourself against injury. Make sure you have the proper equipment for the activities you choose. Such as stout comfortable walking shoes, or helmets and knee pads for the daring.
Here are some particular exercises that I do to relieve joint pain. These are only personal recommendations; I am not a medical professional.
o Tai Chi- The Sun Style is quiet gentle, soothing, and peaceful.
o Yoga. There are many styles of yoga today. Some styles will fit you better than others. Find a class that follows basic postures with an instructor who helps you with modifications. Use a chair for balance. Also try one of the thicker yoga mats for more cushioning.
o Water classes. I like to put on a water vest and do water walking. The warm water can soothe aching joints and it is totally non-impact.
o A program for body toning and strength. Look for a suitable DVD. Remember, moderate; I do not recommend kick-boxing.
o Riding a stationary bike, especially a recumbent bike, can be good for knee and hip joints as well as getting your cardio exercise.
o Walk on a treadmill. Newer models have special cushioning and glide that protect the joints. However, if your knees start to ache you might want to try something else or try switching between the bike and treadmill.
Keep exercising to keep your joints healthy, as well as enjoy the many other benefits of exercise. Always check with a medical professional before trying these recommendations or starting a new exercise program. Be healthy, be happy!
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