You can’t truly appreciate how much you rely on your joints until one of them begins to hurt. Joint pain can make even the simplest tasks, like getting in the car or going downstairs, a major challenge. It can also prevent you from taking part in the very activity that may lessen it the most — exercise.
Performed properly, the right type of exercise works to: increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles and connective tissues surrounding your joints; relieve stiffness; and promote natural lubrication. It also helps you maintain a healthy body weight, which takes some of the pressure off of your hips, knees, and ankles.
Whether you’re looking to relieve joint pain or prevent it, these joint-saving workouts can help:
Use your body weight
A complete bodyweight workout strengthens every major muscle group, using only gravity and your own body weight. Because this type of workout can easily be tailored to your fitness level, it’s ideal for just about everyone. Squats, lunges, pushups, planks, and bridges are just a few of the many bodyweight exercises you can incorporate into your routine. To make it more challenging, add resistance or try longer sets.
Get in the water
If you have access to a year-round indoor pool, use it. Swimming and other forms of water exercise are the ultimate joint-saving workouts because they allow you to experience buoyancy as you strengthen, tone, and stretch your muscles. Water provides extra resistance, too, which helps increase the intensity of the workout without risking your joints in any way. If you don’t consider yourself much of a swimmer, try jogging in the water, or take a water aerobics class.
Focus on your core
Because a weak core places extra stress on your weight-bearing joints, a comprehensive core-strengthening program is essential for protecting your hips, knees, and ankles. But before you start doing crunches, it’s important to understand that your core encompasses your abs as well as your lower back, and to attain well-rounded core strength, you have to work them both in equal measure. Front planks and side planks are a great place to start; stability ball exercises, yoga, and Pilates can also help you strengthen your core, while simultaneously improving your balance, stability, and flexibility.
Go for a hike
Slip into a comfortable and supportive pair of walking shoes and make your way to a local hiking spot. Walking up and down hills and over uneven terrain can strengthen the tiny muscles that help control joint function. Hiking is an ideal alternative activity for runners who don’t want to overstress their joints. It’s also an excellent option for beginner exercisers who want to get their heart rate up and build denser bones. You can get your upper body involved by using a pair of trekking poles.
Hop on your bicycle
Cycling is a joint-saving exercise that strengthens your quads and calves, improves overall leg strength, and protects long-term knee health. Like running and swimming, cycling can also give you a great aerobic workout — and help you burn a substantial amount of calories in the process. If you don’t like the idea of riding in traffic, look for a nearby bike path or find a gym that has stationary bikes or offers more dynamic indoor cycling classes.
Climb on an elliptical
Treadmills may be one of the most popular cardio machines at the gym, but when it comes to getting a joint-saving workout, they can’t compare to ellipticals. An elliptical machine allows you to simulate walking, running, and climbing in one fluid motion that doesn’t require you to lift your feet or place extra strain on your joint. Because you can vary your resistance, speed, and incline from low to high, elliptical training is an ideal substitute for outdoor running.
Take a yoga class
If you’ve always been more of a hard-core fitness enthusiast, you may think of stretching as an important part of your warmup or cooldown, but chances are you don’t consider it the main event. Stretching is often an afterthought, but making it the main point of a workout, as it is in yoga, can deliver myriad benefits. Actively stretching the muscles around each joint can decrease compression within your joints; it can also make your joints more stable. If a certain pose puts too much stress on a joint, your instructor can provide props to help you modify the pose.
To find out which joint-saving workouts might benefit you the most, call your nearest office in Houston or Sugar Land, Texas today, or use our convenient online booking feature to schedule an appointment anytime.