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Motivating yourself to exercise can be hard at the best of times, but if you suffer from joint pain, this can make matters ten times worse. However, if you want to keep niggling aches and pains at bay, while still keeping fit, there are plenty of ways to achieve this.
Causes of joint pain
Joint pain is common and has many causes. Arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, is one of the most frequent causes of joint pain, often resulting from wear and tear. This tends to worsen as we get older. Damage or injury to the tissues that connect bones and joints, called tendonitis, can also cause pain in the joint area. Tendonitis is commonly caused by repetitive strains.
Anything that puts pressure on the joints can result in soreness, and being overweight is one factor that contributes to joint strain. Experts claim that losing one pound in weight reduces four pounds of pressure off the knees, and every 10 pounds lost can result in a 20% reduction in joint pain.
You might not feel like exercising if you experience joint pain, but medics claim that keeping the joints moving and flexible is essential for avoiding stiffness. To gain the most from your workout sessions, without causing further joint aches, there are a few factors to bear in mind.
Warm-ups and stretches
You’ll reduce the likelihood of experiencing joint pain if you carry out warm-up exercises and stretching immediately before and after your workout session. This primes joints and muscles ready for action, keeping them flexible, improving range of motion and getting the blood flowing around the body.
Focus on footwear
Wearing incorrect footwear can exacerbate joint problems, so always ensure your shoes provide support, comfort and stability to joints during workouts.
Mix things up
Focusing on a single type of exercise or muscle group can strain joints and may worsen existing problems. Instead, mix workout sessions up so that you focus on low-impact exercises as well as high-impact ones, and don’t spend too long pummelling any one body area. Variety is crucial for maintaining fitness levels without causing repetitive strains. Exercises such as swimming, cycling and yoga are especially useful for taking pressure off the joints.
Strengthening the muscles that surround joints can support them, reducing pain and injuries. For instance, focus on exercising the quadriceps in front of the thigh, if you experience knee joint problems. Ensure you maintain correct form when lifting weights to strengthen muscles, and don’t lift more than you can handle.
Wear a brace
Although there’s no conclusive evidence to suggest wearing a brace or sleeve around a joint will stop an injury from occurring, they can certainly be useful to reduce pain in existing injuries during exercise. There are lots of brace supports for different joints, so consult a professional for advice.
Know your limits
Exercising through mild joint pain is acceptable, but it’s important to know when to stop to prevent problems from getting worse. If you experience sharp pain in the joints, for instance, take a break from your workout. Applying a warm compress can help to reduce any discomfort and inflammation.
There’s strong evidence to suggest that adopting an alkaline, anti-inflammatory diet rich in essential fatty acids can help to reduce joint inflammation. Certain supplements, such as glucosamine, may also promote joint health.
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