Joint pain can have a host of root causes. From inflammatory conditions like arthritis or tendonitis, to more serious chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia or multiple sclerosis, joint pain can be extremely distracting, even debilitating for some patients. While there are plenty of pain management treatment options available to those suffering from chronic or acute pain, exercise can be just as important in the road to recovery as medications or injections.
It can be difficult for patients to imagine exercising when they are suffering from joint pain and stiffness, but loosening and strengthening the muscles around the joints will optimize joint mobility. In addition, exercise can help maintain bone strength, raise energy levels, improve sleep quality, help maintain weight, and improve balance. Lack of exercise can actually worsen joint pain and lead to more stiffness.
Exercises to Relieve Joint Pain
Always consult your physician before beginning an exercise routine to ensure safety and wellbeing of your joints and body.
Range of motion
Range of motion exercises allow individuals to move their joints through their full range of motion which significantly helps reduce stiffness. This type of exercise may include movements such as raising the arms overhead or rolling the shoulders forwards and backwards. These exercises can be done daily, most of the time.
As the name suggests, these exercises help build strength in the muscles that protect and support joints. Any type of weight training would be considered a strengthening exercise. Two to three 20-30 minute weight training sessions each week are sufficient, leaving rest days in between workouts allowing for the body to rest and recover. Within six months, most people see an increase in their strength by 40% or more.
Aerobic exercise, also called endurance training, can help with overall fitness, cardiovascular health, and weight management. There are many low-impact aerobic exercise options, which is why this type of exercise is great for those looking to relieve joint pain. Walking, swimming, even elliptical machines are great ways to exercise without worsening joint pain from high impact activities.
Gentle stretching exercises
Body awareness exercises and gentle stretching such as yoga or tai chi also help in relieving joint pain. These exercises can also improve balance, posture, coordination, and relaxation.
Day-to-day activities are easy to overlook, but any movement, regardless of how small, can be beneficial. Walking the dog, mowing the lawn, and walking down the mailbox are easy ways to get more movement in during the day.
It only takes a little bit of effort and time to relieve joint pain, but it’s always important to take the right precautions to avoid further injury. Focus on lower impact activities, always warm up before exercising, and don’t be afraid to start slow. It takes time to build up strength. Recovery is also crucial and icing joints for 20 minutes as needed after activity can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Most importantly, be open with your doctor about how you are feeling and what exercises you may be interested in trying to help relieve your joint pain.