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Joint Friendly Exercises to Avoid Pain While Increasing Activity

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By Charlotte Walter, PT, DPT, ATC – Wyoming Rehab

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that 2020 was not the year we expected. Increased stressors and disrupted schedules are often accompanied by decreased exercise consistency and other poor health habits. Once bumped off the wagon, it can be difficult to dust ourselves off and clamber back up. If 2020 knocked you off your fitness routine or reminded you of the importance of starting one, read on.

A common barrier for individuals wanting to start an exercise routine is joint pain or stiffness. Luckily, exercising the right way has actually been shown to decrease these symptoms. To avoid flaring up joint pain, it is important to start smart. Take an honest assessment of your current exercise levels – if you are not currently exercising at all, jumping into a six-days-a-week-60-minutes-a-day high-intensity exercise program will cause a significant increase of joint loading. Instead, start by incorporating low-impact cardiovascular activities such as walking, dancing, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, or rowing with gradual increase in duration.

Strength training is another joint-friendly activity that strengthens the muscles surrounding the joint, which in turn will support the joint and reduce joint stresses. Good news is you don’t need a full gym set-up to get a good workout! Using bodyweight, resistance bands, or free weights can still load muscle groups enough to induce strength gains. No free weights around the house? Get creative with empty milk or water jugs filled with water, sand, or rocks.

Flexibility exercises are an excellent complement to aerobic and strength training activities. Moving a joint through its full available range of motion encourages circulation of joint fluid and helps to reduce joint stiffness. Gentle stretching or yoga routines are a great way to work this in.

Keep in mind, exercise is just a piece of the fitness puzzle. An effective workout is hard to achieve if you are short on sleep, hydration, or nutrition. Start smart and make small, sustainable changes that will have a long-term positive impact on your health. Additional sources of information about physical activity can be found from the CDC, the American Heart Association, the Department for Health and Human Services, and others.

Does all of this sound great, but you’re unsure of where to start? As with any new exercise program, you should consult your doctor to address any medical concerns that could limit exercise before beginning. If you have medical clearance but are stumped by persistent pain, previous injury, or balance concerns, take advantage of your knowledgeable sports medicine and orthopedic therapy team at Wyoming Rehab! Our therapists offer FREE screens and treatment recommendations on non-emergent physical impairments or injuries. Don’t let those aches and pains hold you back. The therapists at Wyoming Rehab can help guide you in the right direction to get your 2021 on track.

Armed with the right knowledge and a desire to improve our levels of health, there’s no reason to not make 2021 the comeback year we all need.

Find out more about what Wyoming Rehab can do for you:  https://www.sheridanhospital.org/medical-services/rehabilitation-services/