If you have joint pain, as an estimated 30 percent of Americans do,[i] the aching and throbbing may make even basic tasks like tying your shoes, taking a walk around the block, or cutting up a tomato painful.
As a result, you may find yourself moving less and less. While this might feel better temporarily, ironically it is one of the worst moves you can make!
Harvard Medical School writes:[ii]
“Ignoring the pain won’t make it go away. Nor will avoiding all motions that spark discomfort. In fact, limiting your movements can weaken muscles, compounding joint trouble, and affect your posture, setting off a cascade of further problems.
By contrast, the right set of exercises can be a long-lasting way to tame ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. Practiced regularly, joint pain relief workouts might permit you to postpone – or even avoid – surgery on a problem joint that has been worsening for years by strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility. Over time, you may find limitations you’ve learned to work around will begin to ease. Tasks and opportunities for fun that have been weeded out of your repertoire by necessity may come back into reach, too.”
Though it might sound surprising, exercise for joint pain is actually one of the best solutions, and it’s one that virtually everyone can (and should) take advantage of.
Exercise for Joint Pain: What Every Joint-Pain Sufferer Should Know
Please don’t be afraid to exercise if you have joint pain. Exercise, even at high intensity, has been found to improve function among people with rheumatoid arthritis (a common cause of joint pain).[iii] It also helped to restore lean body mass, and this weight loss will also help take pressure off of your joints, potentially leading to even greater improvements in your pain.
Likewise, an eight-week exercise program was also found to increases joint mobility and functional capacity, and decrease pain and depression, in people with ankylosing spondylitis (a condition in which some or all of your joints and bones of the spine fuse together).[iv] By improving your flexibility and boosting the strength of the muscles supporting your joints, exercise is a natural way to help relieve your pain. Exercise may even boost your pain threshold so that you’re less affected by the pain you do feel,[v] and it also triggers the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals known as endorphins in your body.
Quite simply, exercise for joint pain should be considered a key part of your treatment.
What’s the Best Exercise for Joint Pain?
If you have joint pain, however, before your workout (or any other time you’re experiencing pain), try using a heating pad with far-infrared rays (FIR), which penetrate deep into your body, leading to vibration effects at the molecular level, which improves transportation of oxygen and nutrients, ultimately helping to support regeneration and healing.[vi]
When used prior to exercise, an FIR heating pad can help your joints and muscles to relax, thereby relieving pain. The thermal effect of deep FIR heat on your tissues causes blood vessels in capillaries to dilate, which improves blood circulation and promotes pain-relief healing. Applying FIR feels like lying in the sun on a warm summer day, but without the ultraviolet rays associated with sunburn and skin cancer. FIR penetrates your skin as deep as 3 inches, compared to just 2-3mm of other pads, which is why FIR’s energy is able to reach deep into your body, zero in on your pain, and speed natural healing.
Once you’re feeling relaxed, warmed up and ready, if you suffer from joint pain you’ll want to be sure to include the following beneficial exercises:
- Range-of-motion exercises: Activities such as stretching, tai chi and yoga can help to gently increase your flexibility and maintain normal joint movement while relieving stiffness.
- Lower-impact aerobics: Swimming, bicycling and water aerobics are easy on your joints while still giving you a great workout.
- Strength training: It’s important to include weights in your workout routine, as this will help you to build the muscles supporting your joints, ultimately helping to lessen pain.
- Bodyweight exercises: Simple activities such as squats can help you to increase your strength and boost your ability to perform daily movements, such as climbing stairs.
Finally, when you exercise for joint pain, always listen to your body. Start gradually and warm up using dynamic stretches and an FIR heating pad. If you experience sharp pain or worsening of pain during your workout, these are signs that you need to take a break or modify your activity. A personal trainer can be invaluable in helping you to create a safe, effective workout, but you can also start slowly on your own, gradually working up to more intense workouts as your body grows stronger.