8 Ways to Look After Your Joints When Exercising – Flexiseq

8 Ways to Look After Your Joints When Exercising

As anyone with osteoarthritis or joint pain knows, exercise can come to be something you dread - even though keeping moving is one of the most important things you can do to help manage the pain. Not only that, but exercise is vital to maintaining your health in general, so you need to find ways to stay active while also staying safe.

To that end, it’s crucial that you be conscientious about how you approach exercising, so you don’t end up doing it in a way that exacerbates joint pain, or - worse still - causes further injury. 

But there’s no need to worry; with the right approach, exercise can help ease your osteoarthritis or joint pain symptoms, improve your mobility and benefit your mental health. With the following seven tips, we’ll explain exactly how you can safely pursue an active lifestyle.

1. Warm up correctly

Any exercise routine - whether you have osteoarthritis or not - needs to start with a warm-up. Warming up helps to increase the flow of blood to your muscles and joints, reducing stiffness and getting your body ready for more intense exercise. You should be doing around 5-10 minutes of gentle stretching and light exercise such as walking, so that you’re smoothly transitioning into your more vigorous exercises. Although everyone should warm up, it’s especially important for those with osteoarthritis as it helps to mitigate the stiffness often caused by the condition, and so reduces the risk of injury during movement.

2. Build up the muscles around joints

A major part of preventing injury - and reducing the pain of osteoarthritis - is having strong muscles to support your joints, helping to minimise stress and strain by distributing the impact of movement evenly. You can work towards strengthening muscles around the joints by doing exercises that focus on your major muscle groups - for example squats, seated leg raises or modified push-ups (i.e. on your knees). You can also use light weights and resistance bands to build muscle while only placing gentle pressure on your joints. 

3. Keep it low-impact

When deciding what type of exercise to do, bear in mind how much impact it will have on your joints; the higher the impact, the more chance it has of exacerbating joint pain. Activities like swimming, cycling, walking and yoga are all low-impact exercises that are very gentle on your joints while providing an effective workout. Meanwhile running and tennis, for example, are exercises that involve pounding your feet on the ground, or objects hitting rackets at high speed - which, as a result, is likely to put strain on your joints.

4. Focus on form

Any exercise that you take part in is safer when carried out correctly, so you should always make an effort to look into the correct form and technique of any activity that you’re taking part in. This is especially true of high-impact activities like running, where landing lightly on your feet, maintaining an upright posture and having the correct length of stride will all help avoid injury, while avoiding running on hard surfaces will reduce impact on your joints. Likewise, if you are working with weights - however light they are - make sure you first establish the correct technique to ensure that you are doing so safely.

5. Have an idea about gear

Just as you need to ensure you’re using your body correctly, any equipment involved in your chosen activity needs to be used correctly too - because the right equipment, properly calibrated, can make all the difference when it comes to osteoarthritis. For example, a correctly adjusted bicycle with a saddle and handlebars at the optimal height will reduce strain on your knees and hips. Footwear ideally suited to activity and your specific gait will make walking or running much more comfortable - while also minimising joint pain and injury. Similarly, consider whether you could benefit from tools such as a support braces or sleeves for any joints that might cause pain while exercising.

6. Stay hydrated

 It’s a simple one, but so easy to forget. As well as being vitally important to drink enough water while exercising to reduce the chance of heat stress and maintain normal body function, keeping hydrated can also help reduce the inflammation and swelling that is associated with joint pain in osteoarthritis.

7. Pay attention to your body

Perhaps the most important piece of advice we can give to anyone exercising with osteoarthritis is to listen closely to your body. Any pain or discomfort that you experience during exercise should be taken as an indication that you need to have a break and let your body rest. Never push through pain, because this can cause injury and exacerbate osteoarthritis symptoms. Always respect your body’s limits!  

8. Warm-down and Reward

After any form of exercise it’s always a good idea to do a simple warm-down. This doesn’t need to be strenuous but just gentle stretches focusing on the muscles or joints you’ve been exercising. It’s also worth remembering that  if you're exercising with joint pain a great way to get moving or aid joint recovery is drug-free FlexiSEQ. FlexiSEQ lubricates the cartilage in joints to relieve pain and stiffness and improve impaired joint function. 

Once you’ve had a good workout it can be tempting to reward yourself. In many ways this is recommended as it can act as a key motivator. But be sure that you reward yourself with something that will also benefit your joint pain and joint health. We’ve created a host of delicious recipes that are perfect for just such a reward.

The key is to find the exercise routine that works for you - the routine that keeps you active and keeps your joints moving without exposing them to unnecessary strain. Follow our seven tips and you’ll soon find a sustainably active lifestyle that improves your overall well-being. 

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