Five tips to help you exercise safely and improve your joints

Outdoor exercise is a great way to keep active. You can make the most of the fresh air, improve your fitness and reap the benefits of endorphins that help to relieve stress, increase self-esteem and boost energy.

But however motivated you may be to take up exercise, you might also have concerns regarding the impact on your joints. Over time, the wear and tear of joints can cause inflammation and accelerate the deterioration of cartilage.

It’s certainly important to be aware of any changes in your body. Joint stiffness or pain, especially in the load-bearing joints such as your knees or lower back, could be a warning sign for the start of something more serious. It can also affect anyone at any age – young adults are just as at risk of developing joint conditions from repetitive injuries or over use as an adult that experiences arthritic conditions due to their age.

Indeed, two thirds of adults over the age of 45 have sought treatment for osteoarthritis, a painful condition caused by the breakdown of protective joint cartilage over time. 

Aside from the pain, arthritis can have a knock-on effect on your life. For example, drivers with arthritis are as much as 87% more likely to be in a crash, when accounting for age. This can lead to more claims with Louisville personal injury attorney as well as other financial and physical inconveniences.

Exercise can help to ease arthritis pain and stiffness

However, the good news is that, contrary to popular opinion, exercise is in fact a great way to help support your joint health when taking the right care and precautions. It can also help ease arthritis pain and stiffness.

If you do have arthritis it’s important to talk to your doctor about fitting exercise into your treatment plan. The types of exercises that are right for you will depend on your type of arthritis and which joints are affected.

Range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises. and aerobic exercise can all be helpful for arthritis. Just make sure you keep the impact low, apply heat to your joints before you exercise to relax your joints and muscles and relieve any pain, move your joints gently at first to warm up, and take it slow at first.

If you feel any pain, take a break. And remember to apply ice to your joints for up to 20 minutes after you exercise if it causes your joints to swell.

Five tips to help you get your joints moving (safely)

To help you embark on a new exercise regime that is safe for your joints, here are five tips from physiotherapist Sammy Margo.

1) Stretch and strengthen

Remember to stretch before you exercise, particularly if you are unaccustomed to exercise, unfit or overweight. Stretching is important because exercise, especially running, can cause a temporary stress to both your joints and soft tissues, causing pain in the ligaments of your knees and across the tissues of your hip and pelvis.

Regular stretching also helps to keep your joints and tendons flexible. If your muscles are tight, the range of motion can feel restricted which adds extra pressure to your joint tissues. Strong muscles and regular stretching ensure your joints are well supported.

In addition to these tips, incorporating stretches and exercises specifically targeting tight calves can significantly contribute to joint health and mobility. Castleflexx provides a helpful guide on how to release tight calves, offering valuable insights for your exercise routine.

2) Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet

Arthritic conditions benefit from foods which reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. Foods that fight inflammation include tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards, nuts like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, and fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

Try to stay away from foods that cause inflammation, like refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries, fried food, soda, red meat and margarine.

While adjusting your diet to include anti-inflammatory foods, integrating high-quality joint supplements can offer additional support for arthritis conditions. Among the leading options in 2024, the expert review of joint supplements by Performance Lab dives deep into how essential ingredients like Boswellia Serrata and Curcumin can further alleviate inflammation and promote joint health.

3) Mix up your movements

Adding variety to your workout routines can relieve pressure and reduce impact on lode-bearing joints. If you’re used to exercising multiple times a week, make sure you mix it up. Why not try cycling or focus on your flexibility with a Pilates session?

4) Maintain a healthy weight

Excess weight puts additional stress on joints which can accelerate the risk of osteoarthritis, especially in your knees. Studies have shown that every pound of weight lost in obese adults will result in a four-fold reduction on the load exerted on your knee. Losing a few pounds can go a long way to improving your overall health and wellbeing.

5) Wear appropriate footwear

If you exercise regularly it’s important to have shoes that offer enough cushioning and support to prevent trauma to the joints and bones. Invest in good quality footwear that fit well and are appropriate for the type of exercise you choose to do.

GOPO® Joint Health Plus Ginger is specially formulated to aid muscle recovery, reduce morning joint stiffness and safeguard joints to help maintain an active lifestyle.

Photo by Arek Adeoye