Suffer from joint pain or arthritis? You are not alone. According to the CDC, an estimated 69.9 million people suffer from arthritis or other chronic joint pain. That is one in three Americans living their lives with some kind of joint pain. The search for joint pain relief is something that could benefit millions of Americans.
You don’t have to live your life crippled by chronic joint pain. There are solutions. Many people have found joint pain relief with anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-inflammatory diet, herbal supplements, compression products, and the solution we’re going to talk about today -- exercise.
In the past, doctors used to recommend bed rest for issues of chronic back or joint pain, but the body of research is growing that shows exercise helps chronic pain sufferers relieve and manage their pain better. Exercise helps maintain strength and flexibility in the body and research is also linking a higher pain threshold for exercisers -- a fact that’s critically important to those that suffer from chronic pain. Exercising also brings you more body awareness -- especially with mindful practices like yoga, tai chi, or pilates -- that can help you manage your pain more effectively.
As always, consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program -- particularly if you have recently suffered an injury. If the doctor gives you a green light, you should find that exercise helps relieve some of your joint pain and helps you live a fuller life.
7 Exercises for Joint Pain Relief
Walking. Every single human on the planet -- as long as they are physically able -- can benefit from the exercise of walking. It’s low impact, aerobic, and a full body workout. Even better, you don’t need any equipment but a comfortable pair of shoes -- and you can do it anywhere. The movement of joints helps to strengthen cartilage and the walking strengthens muscles in your legs -- which can take pressure of your joints. If walking on pavement or concrete floors bothers your joints too much, try finding a gravel trail or walking on grass for more cushion. Also, walking in water is a great way to get a solid workout with less joint pain -- and the added resistance of the water. Which brings us to the next exercise.
Swimming or Water Aerobics. The buoyancy your body experiences in water makes swimming and water exercises ideal for anyone with joint pain. Chronic joint pain sufferers may find they can perform exercises in the water -- running, aerobics, etc -- that are too painful normally. Swimming is also a great aerobic exercise that puts less stress on the joints than many other intense activities. Try some of these water exercises for joint pain recommended by the arthritis foundation.
Stretching. Tightness in the muscles can increase -- and even cause -- pain in the joints. Incorporating a stretching routine into your lifestyle helps many people find joint pain relief. You’ll also get extra benefits from stretching like increased flexibility, stability, and strength in the muscles. For muscle and joint specific stretches, take a look at this list of stretches for joint relief.
Weight training. Weight training is one of the best things you can do for you muscles, bones, and joints. Stronger muscles takes the pressure of your joints -- helping to alleviate some of the joint pain. Weight training might seem counterintuitive if your joints feel stiff and painful -- but studies have shown that strength training reduced pain as much as 35% in arthritis sufferers. In addition to pain relief, weight training can reduce the risk of injury and falls, adding to an overall better quality of life.
Cycling. Cycling is an excellent exercise for joint pain sufferers because it is low impact -- but can still be an intense aerobic exercise. Former runners that now find running too jarring could find that cycling offers many of the same benefits and joys -- challenging exercise, opportunity to be outside, social aspects of group training and races -- without the joint pain that often comes with running. It’s not just for former runners either -- anyone can enjoy the benefits of cycling. Even if you’re more of an indoors person, spinning classes offer the workout of cycling without having to face the elements.
Yoga. As yoga becomes more popular and more widely studied, the expansive list of benefits become more clear. One of the biggest benefits of yoga is joint pain relief. Yoga exercise build both strength and flexibility -- which can help relieve pressure and pain in joints. Not only does yoga help with physical pain, it has been shown to have tremendous mental benefits like relieving symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Easing mental symptoms can be a huge relief for chronic pain sufferers -- beyond just helping the physical symptoms. Try some of these yoga poses shown to be effective for pain relief.
Pilates. Pilates is a form of strength training that primarily uses body weight as the resistance. It has been linked to relief of back pain and other joint pain for participants. Like yoga and weight training, pilates promotes stronger muscles and bones -- leading to less stress and pain in the joints. A main focus of pilates is core strength, which can help build stability in the body that leads to less pain and reduced risk of injury.
The most important part of using exercise for joint pain is that you get moving. Whatever activity you enjoy -- that doesn’t cause you pain -- is going to contribute to a reduction in pain, improvement in mobility, and increases in strength. So, talk to you doctor, find an exercise that you enjoy, and get moving!
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