The Best Low-Impact Exercises for Those With Joint Pain
Anyone suffering from stiff and sensitive joints will tell you, finding ways to exercise can be a challenge. Most traditional workouts put too much pressure on the joints, causing pain and increasing the risk of further damage. This frustration can lead to a inactive lifestyle that only makes those joint issues worse.
Fortunately, by adopting low-impact workouts into your routine, anyone can get the benefits of a well-rounded exercise program. A healthy heart, supportive muscular system, and strong bones are all important for a healthy lifestyle, and essential to heal those painful joints.
Whether you’re someone suffering from age-related ailments like arthritis, recovering from an injury, or just too much wear and tear over the years, these low-impact workouts will let you exercise pain-free. A balanced exercise program should promote cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility elements, and this article provides low-impact options for each.
Finding effective cardiovascular workouts can be especially challenging for people with joint issues. These low-impact options are easy on the joints, and also promote the weight-loss that reduces pressure on the knees and ankles.
The Elliptical machine is a great low-impact option because it keeps your feet planted throughout the workout. This lets your knees and hips avoid the excessive foot-falls of running or jumping rope. By using your leg muscles to do most of the work, you’re still able to get the same cardio benefits of high-impact workouts. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend elliptical workouts as an effective alternative to treadmill running.
Cycling is another great alternative to running. Like the elliptical, your feet stay “planted” on the bike pedals which creates no impact. You can benefit from this exercise whether riding a real bike outdoors, or cycling in the gym.
Swimming creates no direct impacts on your joints, making it nearly a a zero-impact workout. Also, unlike most low-impact workouts however, you can do it at a very high intensity. This makes it a great option for a person with an injury who wants to maintain their aerobic fitness. Harvard Medical School says it’s great for joints and, with no set form, you can also customize your swimming style depending on your specific needs.
After age 30, we begin to lose 3-5% of our muscle mass every year. Resistance training helps preserve the muscle we have, while also promoting new growth. Our bone density also increases as our bodies adjust to the resistance, a big factor in improving the health of our joints.
Resistance bands provide a great strength workout while reducing excessive pressure on your joints. Unlike free-weights, the elastic band keeps it tension throughout each movement, requiring your muscles to maintain control. Also, unlike free-weights, you can customize the movement of the exercise by anchoring the band in different positions.
A balanced exercise program is not complete without a section dedicated to increasing our flexibility. By moving our joints through their range of motion, we increase our mobility and reduce risk of injury. This mobility is essential in reducing pain and improving injured joints.
The slow, ground-based movements of yoga make it a great low-impact exercise. By focusing on specific positions, yoga can be much more effective than a general stretching routine. No matter the style, yoga poses can be modified to adjust their intensity or difficultly level. The Arthritis Foundation recommends yoga for improving joint flexibility and function.
Pilates is a movement workout — like yoga — but with strict, controlled movements that target the muscles of your core. It’s emphasis on technique and control keeps your joints stabilized while engaging your muscles. Pilates is great for strengthening the muscles of the spine as well, improving posture and reducing arthritis. Sports therapists recommend pilates for it’s ability to modify its intensity, depending on the person.
You perform Tai-Chi while standing, using slow, fluid motions to promote flexibility and balance. Tai Chi is especially beneficial for people suffering from knee pain who might not be able to do yoga. For joint pain sufferers, the balance and body awareness gained from Tai-Chi is beneficial for reducing the risk of fall and injury.
You Got This!
Exercising with joint pain can be a challenge, but low-impact workouts like these can make it possible. Adding one of these to balance an existing routine – or incorporating all to start a new one – will allow you to get the benefits of a well-rounded exercise program while going easy on your joints.
The weight-loss, muscular stability, and flexibility will have your joints feeling better as well. This can lead to a more active lifestyle that is important when it comes to preventing further joint issues down the line.
It’s also worth noting that low impact exercises aren’t only for people with joint issues. Reducing the stress and wear on your joints should be a priority for anyone, no matter who you are.
As always, consult a physician before beginning any kind of exercise program, especially if you have joint issues.
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