The best exercises for joint problems

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If you suffer with joint pain and joint stiffness, exercise and adding stretching into your daily routine could be particularly helpful to reduce the symptoms.

Exercise not only helps to relieve these symptoms but could also reduce any unwanted weight and improve your mood. Though some people may think that exercise will aggravate joint pain and stiffness, that’s not the case. Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff. Keeping your muscles surrounding your joints strong is crucial to maintain support for your bones. Not exercising can weaken those supporting muscles, creating more stress on your joints.

As well as improving your mood and fitness, exercise can also:

  • Strengthen muscles around your joints
  • Help you maintain bone strength
  • Give you more energy
  • Make it easier to get a good night’s sleep
  • Help you to control your weight
  • Enhance your quality of life
  • Improve your balance

Exercises that can help reduce the symptoms of joint problems such as arthritis can include:

Stretching

Not only can stretching improve flexibility, it can also reduce stiffness and increase the range of motion of your joints. Stretching daily can help to relieve joint pain and stiffness. A typical stretching routine may consist of:

Warming up by walking on the spot or pumping the arms while sitting or standing for 3 to 5 minutes. Holding each stretch for 10-20 seconds before releasing it. Repeating each stretch 2-3 time.

Walking

Walking is a low impact form of exercise that can help with aerobic conditioning, heart and joint health, and mood. It is sensible to walk slowly initially and then increase the pace when possible.

Tai Chi or Yoga

Both Tai Chi and yoga combine deep breathing flowing movements, gentle poses and mediation. They increase flexibility, balance and range of motion whilst also reducing stress.

Pilates

Pilates is a low impact activity that stabilises the muscles around them. People new to Pilates should begin with a routine that uses a mat rather than a machine to build muscle safely.

Water exercises

Water helps to support body weight, which means that water exercises do not impact heavily on the joints. Swimming or water aerobics and other gentle water exercises can increase flexibility, range of motion, strength and aerobic conditioning. They can also reduce joint stiffness.

Cycling

Riding a stationary bike can be a safe way to get the joints moving and improve cardiovascular fitness. In addition to improving aerobic conditioning, cycling can reduce stiffness, increase range of motion and leg strengthen and build endurance.

Strength training

Strengthening the muscles around the affected joints can help to increase strength as well as reduce the symptoms that come with joint problems.

Gardening

As well as being a form of exercise, gardening offers the benefit of improving your mood. People should be gentle with their body, work slowly and avoid overstraining the muscles and joints.

You might notice some pain after you exercise, if you haven’t been active for some time. In general, if you are sore for more than two hours after you exercise, you were probably exercising to strenuously. Trust your instincts and don’t exert more energy than you think your joints can take. Take it easy and slowly increase your exercise length and intensity as you progress.

Before starting a new exercise routine, it is best to consult your GP, or a fitness expert who will be able to offer advice on the best exercises and routine to meet your needs.