Written by my Mum, whose joints have been through the wringer.
We’re always being told that exercise is great for our health, but what if we´re suffering from bad joints? ‘joint-friendly’ exercising so that you can gain all the health benefits without the pain!
Regular exercise is among the best medicines we have. It can reduce the risk of many diseases, from cardiovascular to diabetes and even cancer, and help lead to a long and healthy lifespan. That’s all very well if you have a 20-year-old body and can go to the gym daily and fling yourself around a tennis court or football pitch, but what about those of us who suffer from niggling joints and want all the health benefits without too much soreness or pain? Getting the balance between regular, health-enhancing exercise and pain-free joints is possible. Here are some simple measures that can be taken to maintain healthy, supple joints and counter the wear and tear on the joints:
Exercise should be moderate and regular, preferably daily. The best exercise is brisk walking, half to three quarters of an hour daily, for those who have a healthy metabolism and a good cardiovascular system. Don’t fear that you will do more harm than good – if your joints hurt or you suffer from arthritis, some types of moderate exercise can help reduce joint pain and increase functionality. If you are struggling with knee pain check out arthritis knee exercises.
Low impact activities such as walking, cycling or swimming are all better for the joints than jarring, high-impact exercise such as jogging or step aerobics. Try exercising on soft surfaces too – grass is kinder to knees than tarmac. Exercise in water can be very useful; it supports the weight of the body, taking it off painful knees and hips and making it much easier to exercise them thoroughly. Ellipticals and stationary bikes are pretty much no-impact exercises
Many people want to exercise too much, too soon, at too high a speed or for too long a distance/time when they start out – these are all major causes of soreness, joint pain and injury. Injury (and associated joint pain) are among the greatest risk factors for osteoarthritis. Make sure that you warm up thoroughly and incorporate plenty of stretching after exercising.
Include plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and oily fish in your diet.
Get plenty of vitamin D The Arthritis Research Council are currently researching the effects of Healthspan’s vitamin D supplementation in preventing osteoarthritis.
Take a joint care supplement Glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin have gained significant interest, fuelled by positive word of mouth among athletes and by positive research results. Glucosamine is an important building block in joints, cartilage and tendons and has proven pain-relieving properties.
Don’t believe the old wives’ tale ‘no pain no gain’ If you begin to feel knee pain, stop exercising for several days and try the following:
* Ice the knee and surrounding tissues several times a day
* Elevate the knee, and wrap it with elastic tape
* Take bromelain (a natural enzyme from pineapples with anti-inflammatory properties) to ease the pain and reduce inflammation.
Strike a healthy balance
Taking part in regular, low-impact exercise will help you to maintain active flexible joints. With plenty of stretching, a good technique and no overexertion coupled with a balanced diet and a daily dose of glucosamine sulphate, you can help to counter joint pain, improve flexibility and protect against future problems as well as maintaining good health into your older age. You get only one set of knees, so make sure you look after them!