Musculoskeletal health. Staying active with joint pain
The key is figuring out how much to do.
Did you know that losing one pound of weight unloads four pounds of joint stress in people with knee osteoarthritis? Lose 10 pounds and you save your knees 40 pounds of joint stress per step.1That’s just one of many reasons why staying active and maintaining a healthy weight are so important.
While you might think exercise would worsen joint pain and stiffness, the opposite is true. Too little exercise means the muscles and surrounding tissue that support your bones don’t stay strong. The tricky part is knowing how much exercise to do when you’re hurting. First, talk to your doctor about what makes sense for your condition.
If your doctor tells you it’s safe, here are some tips to help you figure out your limits:
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 you’re okay, 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’re struggling to get through the day without ibuprofen, 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 means that you worked out too hard or too long. Try taking a day off; then, do a less intense workout.
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