Sore joints can make everyday tasks like getting dressed, cooking dinner, or walking the dog incredibly difficult. The key to finding relief might be simpler than you expect. According to the Mayo Clinic, the right exercises can increase your strength, improve your flexibility, and actually reduce your joint pain.
It might seem counterintuitive to exercise when your joints are hurting, but regular exercise can provide both immediate and long-term relief. Try some of the exercises below - all recommended by physical therapists and experts from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, to improve your range of motion and reduce joint pain. Visit the AARP’s website for additional exercises.
And remember, before beginning any type of exercise, check with your doctor to make sure it’s appropriate for you.
Exercises to Reduce Back and Shoulder Pain
The following exercises can help strengthen the muscles in your back and improve your range of motion. Start slowly, doing as many repetitions as you feel comfortable with, and slowly work up to more as you become stronger and more flexible.
Lie face-down on a flat surface, with your arms stretched out in front of you. Slowly raise up your arms and legs at the same time, so your body forms a shallow U shape. Lower and repeat
Lie on your back on a flat surface. Keep your arms at your sides, with your knees bent and your feet flat. Lift up your pelvis so your body forms a straight line from your knees to your head. Hold for 15 seconds, then lower down.
Starting with your arms at your sides, move them in large circles. Move forward for 10-15 seconds, then switch to backward.
Shoulder Blade Stretch
Sit on a stool or the edge of a bed, sitting up straight with good posture. Pull your shoulder blades together and squeeze. Hold for several seconds, then relax.
Exercises to Reduce Hip Pain
Hip pain can be caused by arthritis or weak muscles near the hips. Try a few of the exercises below to improve hip flexibility and reduce pain.
Lie on your side, with your knees bent and stacked. Open up the top knee as if it’s on a hinge and lift it as high as you can, while keeping your hips stationary. Hold for several seconds, then release. Repeat several times on each side.
Standing Hip Abduction
This exercise can be done anywhere. Simply stand up straight and raise one leg out to the side, keeping your balance on the other leg. If you need help, hold onto the edge of a sink, table, or sofa.
You can do this exercise either on the floor or on a bed for more comfort. Lie on your stomach with a pillow beneath your hips. Bend one knee up at a 90-degree angle and lift it straight up as high as you can. Hold for several seconds, then lower. Repeat on both sides.
Exercises to Reduce Knee Pain
Walking is one of the simplest and most effective knee exercises available, and it can be done anywhere. If walking causes too much pain, walking in a pool can help reduce the pressure on your knees. Find more at-home exercises to help reduce knee pain below.
Straight Leg Raises
Lie flat on your back, with your arms at your sides, one knee bent up, with the other leg out straight in front of you. Slowly raise the straight leg so it’s about six to 10 inches off the floor, then hold for five seconds. Repeat several times on one leg before switching to the other and repeating the move.
Although a traditional deep squat might not feel comfortable on your joints, a half squat can still give you the same benefits without the pain.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly lower yourself down to a slight crouch, with nearly all of your weight in your heels. You should feel the move, but not knee pain. Hold for 10 seconds, then straighten up. You can also try adding hand weights as you get used to this move.
Sit up straight on the edge of a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise one knee and straighten the leg, lifting it as high as you can and with your toes pointed up. Hold the position for two seconds, then lower and repeat several times on each side.
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