12 Simple Exercises to Relieve Joint Pain
Do you suffer from daily joint or arthritis pain? Add these 11 exercises to your daily routine along with existing supplements and medications to stop pain fast.
Joint pain is a condition that has a variety of causes. It could be from something as simple as over-exercising, or something as complex as arthritis. While many people believe that living with joint pain is simply something that they must bear as they get older, you may not have to deal with chronic joint pain any longer.
Studies have linked the benefits of exercise to the relief of joint pain for many years, but one new study presented to the American College of Rheumatology in 2013 has confirmed the link once and for all.
The American College of Rheumatology study looked at postmenopausal women suffering from breast cancer. These women were treated with an aromatase inhibitor, which has the side effect of causing additional joint pain. Up to 32 percent of women stop the treatment because the joint pain becomes unbearable.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a study on 20 of these women to investigate the link between exercise and the relief of joint pain. The women were prescribed a walking plan outlined by the Arthritis Foundation's Walk With Ease program. At the end of 6 weeks, all of the women said they had reduced stiffness and joint pain. Joint pain levels decreased by about 10 percent, and stiffness decreased by about 30 percent.
Due to these results, the researchers concluded that a walking program with moderate intensity (or another moderate form of exercise) could reduce joint pain.
Studies on exercise and joint pain go back several decades. In 1948, the Framingham Heart Study was begun. The study spanned several decades to determine any existing link between exercise and joint pain. When the study was begun, researchers thought that exercise harmed joints. The study was supposed to prove the link between exercise and joint pain, but researchers found quite different results.
This study looked at the exercise patterns of residents from Framingham, Mass.. The participants in this study, as well as their children, have been studied multiple times, including in 1971, 1993, and 2002. The follow-up studies were conducted to see how exercise and arthritis were related.
At the start of the study, all participants were arthritis-free. By the end of the study, some participants did have arthritis, but it was more likely to be the sedentary participants who had greater joint pain. At the end of the study, researchers were suprised to confirm that exercise benefits joint health.
A study from Australia started in the 1990s confirmed that exercise can actually be good for joints by compressing the joints and forcing nutrients into the joints and cartilage. The study looked at nearly 300 men and women without joint issues. A follow-up study in 2003 showed that individuals who had engaged in the most vigorous exercises on a regular basis were more likely to have healthy, strong knees.
Two European studies have confirmed that exercise is effective as a therapy method for joint pain. A 2005 study from England studied 13 other trials looking at how exercise benefits joint issues. Walking and muscle-building exercises could reduce pain and disability in the knees. In 2006 and 2007, researchers from the U.K. and The Netherlands showed that graded exercise programs are effective at healing knee and hip arthritis.
If you have joint pain, the last thing you may want to think about is exercising and moving, but it really is the best thing you can do. If you haven’t exercised regularly in some time, make sure you stay safe by following the instructions outlined below:
Before starting any exercise program, consult with your doctor or another health professional. Depending on the condition of your joints, your doctor may want you to avoid certain exercises. In general, the best exercises are weights and other load-bearing exercises like walking. Avoid running and strenuous sports like tennis, basketball, and golf for a few months until you build up the strength in your muscles and joints.
When you exercise, pay careful attention to posture and good form. The wrong form could cause injuries and may not provide as much benefit to your joints. Ask your doctor to recommend a physical therapist or a trainer to use until you discover the right way to perform each exercise. Some gyms also offer professional training for a fee.
If you are unsure where to start with exercises that can improve your joint health, rather than hurt it or make the pain worse, try the following exercise activities recommended by expert sources including Web MD, The Massachusetts General Hospital, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Ankle Twist: A resistance band can help provide conditioning in the ankles that will help relieve joint pain. Wrap a resistance band around the bottom of your foot with your toes pointing to the ceiling. Slowly push your toes as close to the ground as possible while pulling on the band. Go slowly, so you don’t injure your ankles. Repeat the process pulling to the left, the right, and flexing your toes back toward your body. Repeat each motion 10 times daily.
Leg Raises: Sit in a chair. Lift one leg straight in front of you for about 30 seconds. Switch to the other leg and repeat the movement. Do each leg about 10 times.
Knee Rocking: Use a cushioned mat for this exercise. Get down on one knee and rock back and forth gently. Do not extend your knee beyond your toes. Switch knees and repeat on the other side. Do about 30 rocks per leg.
Leg Swings: Hold on to a wall and gently raise each leg to the side one at a time. You can also do this in a pool for greater resistance. This will improve flexibility and range of motion while lessening pain.
Leg Extensions: Facing the wall, extend your legs one at a time as far back as possible. Go slowly, so you don’t injure your muscles or hips. You can also do this exercise in the water.
Arm Circles: Bend at the waist and place your arm on a counter or table. Let the other arm hang freely. Move the arm back and forth slowly for about 10 swings. Move the arm in a circle clockwise 10 times, then counterclockwise an additional 10 times. Repeat for the other arm.
Standing Row: Tie the ends of a resistance band together. Loop one side over a door knob and hold the other end in your hand. Step back from the door so the band is taught. Hold your arm and elbow in a straight “L” shape. Gently pull your elbow back straight as far as you can go. Repeat 10 times then switch to the other arm.
Wrist Stretch: Hold your arm out straight in front of you. With your other hand, gently push your wrist forward as far as it will go. Pull your wrist back as far as it will go without pain. Repeat the movement 10 times, then switch to the other arm.
Bicep Curl: Use free weights for this exercise. You can use 5, 10, or 12 pound weights, depending on your strength. Stand up straight holding the weights in both hands. Curl your elbows up and then let them down slowly. Do not allow the weights to fall, but move them with your muscles the entire time.
If you have general joint pain, yoga and other flexibility exercises are highly effective.
Back stretch: Try lying on your back with your legs in the air as if you were seated in a chair. If this is too difficult, you can place your legs on a sofa or chair. This relaxes your spine and improves flexibility.
Squatting: Squats may seem hard, but they are highly effective at fighting joint pain. Work with a trainer to find the perfect squat position for you. If you cannot do them unassisted, use a chair or wall to help keep you balanced. Squats are challenging, but they improve joint movement and pain faster than many other exercises, according to joint experts.
In addition to exercise, you can stop joint pain in other ways using the following methods:
Certain supplements are highly effective at reducing the pain and tenderness from joint pain. If you have chronic or temporary joint pain, try adding the following supplements to your daily supplement intake. Mixtures that offer multiple supplements in one convenient package make it easier to add to your supplement routine. Look for herb mixes that offer “joint support.”
Ginger: A 2005 study from RMG Biosciences showed that ginger “modulates biochemical pathways activated in chronic inflammation.” Basically, this means that ginger can help control excessive inflammation in the body when taken in supplement form.
Turmeric: Turmeric offers beneficial anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit multiple health conditions. In a 2003 review of 6 other studies of curcumin (the anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric) by the University of California, it was proven that supplementing with turmeric will provide benefits in arthritis and other joint pain issues.
Vitamin C: Some studies have indicated that vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties. A 2006 study published in American Society for Clinical Nutrition showed that plasma vitamin C was the most effective at reducing inflammation and stopping joint pain and discomfort.
Vitamin B3: According to the National Institute of Health, vitamin B3 is effective for reducing the symptoms of arthritis and other joint pain and discomfort. Vitamin B3 can also improve joint flexibility. According to the NIH, supplementing with vitamin B3 could allow some people to stop taking painkillers for joint pain on a regular basis.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: While Omega 6 acids are inflammation-promoting, omega 3 acids are inflammation-reducing. A 2008 study from Harvard Medical School showed that omega 3 acids were responsible for eliminating “omega-6 fatty acids-derived pro-inflammatory eicosanoids” and reducing the “production of pro-inflammatory enzymes and cytokines.” Consider omega 3 acids the counterbalance for inflammation caused by omega 6 acids.
Cat’s Claw or Devil’s Claw: Both cat’s claw and devil’s claw offer anti-inflammatory properties. Either one would work well towards fighting joint pain. According to the University of Maryland, devil’s claw is effective at reducing pain and fighting arthritis symptoms. According to the American Cancer Society, alkaloids present in cat’s claw has reduced inflammation in animal studies, but fewer studies have looked at the results in human subjects.
Did you know that arthritis and other forms of joint pain can be exacerbated with foods? Certain foods are known to promote inflammation, which causes joint pain and tenderness. If you want to stop joint pain, avoid the following foods as prescribed by Healthline:
Fried and processed foods: Researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that eating less processed and fried foods reduced inflammation in the body. Researchers did not identify why this was the case, but many processed foods are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which do promote inflammation.
Sugar: Sugar can promote the production of advanced glycation end product toxins in the body. These toxins can cause inflammation and are known triggers for arthritis and other joint diseases.
Omega 6 fatty acids: This acid is present in many vegetable oils, particularly corn and soybean oil. Omega 6 acids are inflammatory triggers and can lead to a variety of health conditions if consumed in large amounts.
If your joint pain has been caused by overwork, rest can be the best healing method you can use. Take a break from vigorous exercise for a day or two to give your joints time to relax. However, you should not stop all exercise. The exercises listed above can be helpful in reducing joint pain even after an injury.
If your joints are especially sore, there are a few tricks you can try to help reduce pain. Try applying ice or a heat pack to the joint to soothe swollen joints. A warm bath or shower can help relieve joint pain. Gentle massage on the joint can help relieve pain by moving the fluid around the joint to inside the joint. If the pain is unbearable, you can try taking over-the-counter pain relief, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to temporarily relieve the pain.
Although joint pain has multiple causes, it is scientifically proven that exercise and eating the right foods and supplements can help drastically reduce the pain that you feel from any cause. So, if your pain is caused by overexertion, by medication, by aging, or a medical condition like arthritis, movement and the right diet and supplements will help eliminate much or all of your pain. Within just a few weeks, you should see a drastic reduction in your level of daily pain if you follow the steps outlined above. With these steps, you will be able to live a happy, pain-free life.
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