There’s no substitution for regular exercise when seeking to improve your health. It improves circulation throughout your body, burns fat, builds muscle and regulates your body’s hormone levels. Unfortunately, millions of Americans struggle to get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week because of joint pain. If you can’t seem to exercise without experiencing discomfort, soreness, inflammation or limited mobility in your one or more joints, consider the following tips.
Exercise and Joint Pain: What You Should Know
First, it’s important to understand how exercise causes joint pain. Exercise, by definition, is any form of physical activity that involves moving your body for the purpose of improving your health. When you exercise, you are moving parts of your body, including joints like your knees, wrists and shoulders. Over time, this constant stress can wear down the soft tissue in your joints to the point where it can no longer cushion the bones, resulting in painful friction. This shouldn’t prevent you from staying physically active, however. With the right approach, you can meet the recommend 75 to 150 minutes of exercise per week without exposing your joints to significant stress.
Warm Up Before Exercising
Warming up before you exercise can help minimize stress on your joints. If you’re preparing to jog, for example, spend five to 10 minutes stretching in place. Raising your arms in the air and gently pulling them in the opposite direction will loosen your shoulders. To warm up your knees, perform a few sets of lunges. By warming up, you’ll force the tissue in your joints — and elsewhere in your body — to move around so that it’s not frozen in place.
Exercising while dehydrated increases the risk of joint pain, yet statistics show that three-fourths of Americans are chronically dehydrated. How does dehydration lead to joint pain exactly? Well, our bodies use water to create lubrication in the joints. As you expel water, however, your body will lose some of the lubrication in its joints. Depending on just how much lubrication you lose in your joints, you may feel painful friction and irritation when performing exercises that move those joints. You can prevent this from happening, however, by making hydration a priority. Drink water before you exercise and immediately after you exercise to keep your joints lubricated and protected from stress.
Swimming isn’t just a fun recreational activity; it’s a beneficial form of exercise that’s particularly useful for men and women suffering from joint pain. Unlike most other exercises, swimming doesn’t place significant weight or pressure on your joints. When you jog or run, the weight of your body is placed on your knees (as well as other joints). And when you lift weights, you’ll place even more weight on your knees and joints. Swimming is a unique form of exercise, however, because it doesn’t place weight on your joints. Rather, it allows you to engage your muscles by paddling your arms and kicking your feet without exposing your joints to significant stress.
Manage Your Weight
Your body weight can affect whether you experience joint pain when exercising. In an article published by WebMD, Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph of Rush University Medical Center explains that for every 10 pounds an overweight person loses, he or she will experience a 20% reduction in joint pain. If you are currently overweight, focus on shedding those extra pounds before you engage in any serious, intense exercise. Once you’ve achieved a healthy weight, you can shift your workout regimen to more intense exercises like lifting weights.
Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
If you struggle to exercise without experiencing joint pain, try to include more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet. Granted, there are plenty of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs available, but you can obtain the same effects by changing your diet. Fish, for example, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Not to be confused with omega-6 fatty acids, it has similar effects as ibuprofen and aspirin by reducing inflammation in your body.
In addition to fish, other anti-inflammatory foods that can protect your joints from stress include:
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
- Turmeric root powder
Use Caution When Lifting Weights
To safely lift weights without stressing your joints, start with smaller, lighter weights. In other words, don’t try to set a new personal best by lifting heavier weights. Instead, stick with the lighter weights to preserve your joint health. You’ll get the same muscle-building effects by performing more reps with lighter weights, but it won’t place as much stress on your joints as performing fewer reps with heavier weights. Regardless of how much lift, though, use caution to ensure that it’s not stressing your joints. If you experience discomfort or pain, stop lifting and choose a different exercise.
If you’re suffering from joint pain, contact Atlanta Chiro and Wellness today. We offer specialized services to help joint pain and other related conditions.Share