With the right kind of exercise, you can alleviate joint pain or even prevent it, stay limber and healthy. With these top moves, you’ll have better range of motion, find everyday chores easier to do and, who knows, you may even break your personal best on a morning jog.
If you are one of the millions of Canadians who suffer from joint pain, there are some simple things you can do to help alleviate the discomfort and prevent further joint wear or injury:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do low- or no-impact aerobic exercises, such as swimming, walking or cycling, twice a week
- Include weight training or resistance exercises twice a week to help strengthen the muscles and ligaments surrounding joints
- Ice your joints after exercise to manage pain and prevent swelling
- Perform stretching and range of motion exercises like those shown below as often as you can
As with all new exercise programs, check with your doctor or healthcare provider first. Once you get their okay, follow any special instructions or tips they may have for you when performing these exercises.
Exercises to improve range of motion
Shoulder rolls — Standing with your arms straight and close to your body, roll your shoulders forward 10 times. Then roll back 10 times.
Side bends — Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and tummy tucked in. Reach your right arm up and over your head to the left side, sliding your left arm down your left leg to your knee. Let your body lean into the stretch. (If you feel any pain, you’re reaching too far.) Hold for a count of 10 before returning to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Hip swings — Stand behind and slightly to the left of a sturdy chair. With knees slightly bent and hands on the chair for support, slowly swing your left leg forward and then back, keeping your back straight, and trying not to arch your spine. Repeat 10 times. Move to the right side and repeat 10 times with your right leg.
Trunk rotation — Lying flat on your back with your knees bent, slowly rock both legs to the left toward the ground. Hold for a count of 10, then slowly return your legs to their original position. Do the same movement to the right. Repeat five times on each side, alternating to the right and left sides.
Hip rolls — Lie flat with your knees straight and legs far apart. Roll your feet and knees toward each other so that you’re pigeon-toed, then roll them out.
Exercises to increase flexibility
Hamstring stretch — Sitting at the edge of a chair or bed, straighten your left leg out in front of you and rest your ankle on the floor or a small stool. Sit up straight, then gently bend forward at the hips until you feel a gentle stretch on the back of your left leg. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing normally. Sit up slowly and repeat on the right.
Quadriceps stretch — Lying on your right side, take hold of your left ankle with your left hand (use a looped belt or towel if you have trouble reaching). Pull your left foot toward your buttocks until you feel a gentle stretch on the front of your thigh. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing normally. Roll to your left side and repeat with the right leg.
Just remember…it’s always a good idea to speak to your healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program.