Joint pain is a common complaint; old or young, an athlete or inactive, it can affect us all. But is joint pain simply down to the way we’re built? Are we just badly designed?
While genetics may make you more predisposed to experience joint issues, its how you use and look after your joints that matters. Science has shown us that good joint health results from more activity, but you need to be using your joints correctly and building strength in the surrounding muscles to see the greatest benefits.
To help you avoid joint pain, here are 6 joint protection techniques and tips:
6 Joint Protection Techniques and Tips
Learn to Do “Easy” Exercise
It’s a common misconception that you should push yourself as hard as you can every time you exercise. While hard runs, plyometrics, and max-weight lifting all have their place in an athlete’s training plan, they’re something you should be cautious about doing more than 1-3 times per week, whether you’re an athlete or not.
These types of exercises are very high impact, meaning they’re putting your body–and especially your joints–through the wringer. You’ve got to give your body time to rest and recover.
Doing “easy” exercise days are the best way to build cardiovascular health and muscular endurance without pushing yourself to the point of injury. A walk, an easy run at conversational pace, cycling on a stationary bike, using the elliptical, and swimming are all good ways to exercise without putting too much strain on your joints.
Check Your Form
Whether you exercise simply to stay healthy or you want to compete at a sport, you should make sure you do your preferred exercise with good form. Those at the top of their sport have learned how to do anything you want to do in a way that’s least likely to cause injury, so learn good form before thinking about increasing speed, weight, or duration significantly.
Use the Right Equipment
The equipment you use to workout or simply even to move around as you live your life will impact your joint health, so make sure you’re using equipment that’s going to help you protect your joints, and not hinder you. For example, if you like to walk or run, wearing $20 sneakers won’t offer you much in the way of cushioning. A good pair of running shoes or hiking boots can do a lot of shock absorption for you, reducing the strain on your joints.
Sore knees or elbows the day after a leg or arm workout? Before you put all the blame on those essential joints, consider how well you’ve stretched. Even those with joint conditions find their joint pain is significantly reduced when they work on tight muscles and tendons around the joint.
Make sure you have a warm up routine before you do any dedicated exercise, and remember to stretch after both exercise and strenuous activity, such as doing yard work. Foam rolling and massage therapy are also both good ways to increase mobility and reduce pain.
Forget “No Pain, No Gain”
The saying “no pain, no gain” shouldn’t be taken literally. What it means is you need to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to improve; you should never keep pushing when your joints hurt. Stop, modify the exercise, or leave what you’re doing for another day.
Use Strength-Building Exercises to Support Your Joints
Your joints rely on all the muscles and tendons surrounding them to move, and so keeping those muscles and tendons strong and supple will help keep your joints pain-free. Focus on building strength around your joints so they can help reduce impact on the joints and reduce overall wear and tear.
Avoiding joint pain is possible, but it’s not easy without the right guidance, whether you’re someone who heads to the gym six days a week or who would prefer a daily walk instead. We’ve put all of our joint care knowledge into our ebook Joint Health 101 to give you all the knowledge you need to reduce joint pain and experience more flexibility.In Joint Health 101 you’ll find advice on caring for individual joints, overall joint health, and even the nutritional side of joint care. To find out more or to get the ebook so you can start protecting your joints for the future, click here.