7 Things You Can Do To Strengthen Your Joints
If you’re physically active – a runner, a weekend warrior, a regular at the gym – you probably have encountered your share of soreness. And to a certain extent the old axiom “no pain, no gain” is true – muscle soreness after a vigorous workout is okay, as long as it’s followed by the appropriate rest and recovery.
However, joint soreness is not okay. It may be par for the course sometimes, but regular pain in your knees, ankles, hips, elbows and shoulders is cause for concern. You shouldn’t have to put up with it. And you shouldn’t just gobble some ibuprofen to make it go away. Applying post-workout ice to your joints is a good idea to speed recovery, but a more proactive approach is to take the time to strengthen those joints. If your joints are stronger, more stable and more resilient, you’ll be able to enjoy exercise more (and maybe even get into better shape!).
With that as our goal, here are seven things you can do to strengthen your joints:
- Swimming: Great exercise, and it’s low impact. One caveat is your shoulders; a lot of swimmers will overwork their shoulders and develop rotator cuff issues. If this becomes an issue, you probably need to vary your stroke (less freestyle, more breaststroke), think about using flippers on your feet, and calling your physician.
- Cycling: Bicycling is gentle on your joints, and just about everybody can do it. Even if it’s freezing outside, you can head to the gym and get in some bike work.
- Educate Yourself: Read up on joints, especially the knees. The better you understand the way the joints and muscles work together, the better armed you’ll be, and the more likely you are to pay attention to some of those muscles that people often ignore, like your hip abductors.
- Stretch: Stretching (gently – don’t bounce!) is a great way to keep you limber and help to strengthen your joints. Spending 20-30 minutes three times a week sounds like a lot, but you can do it in front of the TV and it will pay huge dividends.
- Get Enough Calcium and Vitamin D: These vitamins help to build strong bones, and thereby help to fortify your joints.
- Strengthen the Muscles Around the Joint: This is critical to maintaining proper joint stability, especially in regards to weight-bearing joints.
- Take the Stairs: This is obviously focused on the joints in your lower body, but it’s a low-tech way to build up leg strength and to ensure that you’re using those joints.