The importance of joint health cannot be emphasized enough, as joints, or the regions of the body where two bones meet, are vital to our overall health and basic functioning on a day-to-day basis. While our joints are rather strong and can withstand varying levels of impact, they are also quite complex, containing layers of cartilage, tissue, and membranes which may be at risk for injury. Although we can’t always prevent ourselves from receiving different injuries, especially those that are sports-related, we can improve our likelihood of staving off injury through subtle changes to our lifestyles. Add these five exercises into your routine to improve your overall joint health!
Stretching is a vital part of both improving joint health and preventing injuries. As stretching assists in joint flexibility and promotes blood flow to the muscles, it enables the muscles to better absorb nutrients and discard unnecessary waste. This process helps to strengthen muscles and relieves the stress placed on joints by high-impact activities. Try a few of these stretching techniques and make them a part of your exercise regiment!
Begin this technique by positioning your feet parallel to your shoulders and bend your knees slightly. Place your hands behind your head, as you would while performing a sit-up, and gradually bend to the left, stopping at the middle of your torso. Hold for a few seconds, then return to your starting position. Repeat for your right side. This exercise can also be performed while holding a weight in each hand if you’re up for a little more of a challenge! Side bends are perfect for stretching out the muscles in your back and abdominal region, as well as your arms if you decide to use the weighted approach.
Though there are several ways to perform a hamstring stretch, the simplest way to do this is to place your foot on an elevated surface, such as a curb, yoga block, or stepping platform, and alternate between extending your leg out straight while pushing against the elevated platform and bending your knee while leaning your weight onto this leg. Hamstring stretches enable you to limber up properly in preparation for various physical activities, and also help to reduce stress.
While standing up straight and holding onto a countertop or wall for balance, grab your ankle and pull your foot up towards your backside. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then release and repeat with the other leg. Repeat this stretch three to five times.
Exercising in water is a terrific way to reduce the impact that many activities can have on your joints. Whether through swimming or aerobics, water exercises can help to alleviate joint pain and improve overall joint mobility, reducing your risk of injury. Consider joining a class offered by your local fitness center or practice various water exercises on your own- this type of workout is perfect for summer!
Walking is a great low-impact exercise that can be done by almost anyone, anywhere! It has various benefits to your overall health, but specifically your joint health as your ankles, knees, and hips are used simultaneously. Walking additionally improves balance and strengthens bones, and can be used to reduce joint pain and stiffness.
Cycling is a popular low to medium impact activity that offers many benefits for your long-term joint health. Muscle strength, posture, coordination, and flexibility can be greatly improved through regular cycling exercises as your bones also become stronger. Cycling also helps to decrease body fat levels, which reduces the regular impact that weight has on the joints of the body.
To effectively lessen the physical impact that common activities have on your joints, it is important to increase the strength of your muscles so that this tissue group can assist in absorbing impact each time you get moving. Use the following strength training exercises to improve your muscle strength, and ultimately, your joint health.
Planks are an excellent way to not only strengthen abdominal muscles, but also improve the health and strength of your hip, knee, and ankle joints. Though planks can be challenging, the more you practice them, the better you’ll be! Begin by placing a yoga mat on the floor and lie down in a parallel position. Place your forearms flat on the ground in line with your shoulders and raise yourself into a push-up position. Hold this position for thirty seconds, then relax. Each time you hold a plank, increase the time by thirty seconds. Aim to do four to five planks in one session.
Traditional push-ups are immensely beneficial to building upper body strength and exercising the joints of the shoulder, elbow, and neck. If push-ups seem daunting, start with planks and work your way up to something more challenging.
By introducing rowing into your regular exercise regiment, you can effectively increase the mobility and flexibility of your hip, knee, and shoulder joints. Rowing is a fun, low-impact exercise that benefits your upper and lower body, as well as your cardiovascular system. The next time you find yourself at the gym, give the rowing machine a try and feel the improvements in your joints!