The do’s and don’ts of exercising through joint pain.
Did you know that just one pound of weight loss unloads four pounds of joint stress in people with knee osteoarthritis? It’s one example of why it’s so important to stay active and maintain a healthy weight — even with joint pain.
Though you might think exercise will aggravate your joint pain and stiffness, that's not the case. Lack of exercise can actually make your joints even more painful and stiff. The tricky part is knowing just how much exercise to do when you’re hurting. Here are some tips to help you:
For mild to moderate pain in a specific joint area: Before you work out, begin with some gentle, active range-of-motion exercises, such as shoulder rotations or head tilts. Avoid fast or jerky motions. Then if that doesn’t hurt, move on to some low-impact activity like walking.
For moderate to severe pain in a specific joint area: For a day or two, put your focus on another part of your body. For example, if you have knee pain, decrease the intensity of your leg workout. If the pain increases, do an upper body workout instead.
For constant joint pain (not muscle pain) after exercise: If you pop ibuprofen to get through the day, try lighter activities like swimming, biking or water aerobics.
For moderate to severe joint pain that comes and goes: If you’re experiencing pain the day after you work out, cut back on the intensity of your exercise routine. Soreness usually signals that you worked out too hard or too long. Try taking a day off and doing a less intense workout.
After any prolonged exercise, taketime to ice painful joints.
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