You could have chronic joint pain due to a condition like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, or your joint pain might be related to old injuries or repetitive motions on the job.
No matter why your joints ache, however, the pain can be stressful and limiting, keeping you from the daily activities you want and need to tackle.
When you're living with pain, it's understandable to want to curl up on the couch and rest your aching joints. Instead, you should know that moderate, low-impact exercise can actually do more to help your chronic joint pain than just rest alone.
We’re not saying you should push yourself past your point of endurance, of course, but if you can find ways to comfortably, regularly get some exercise, you may find your overall pain and inflammation levels decreasing.
Here at Alpenglow Pain & Wellness in Anchorage, Alaska, Nichelle C. Renk, MD, is committed to full support for her patients who are dealing with chronic joint pain.
In addition to treatment options such as physical therapy, braces, medications and supplements, and regenerative medicine treatments such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP), Dr. Renk typically recommends moderate, regular exercise for her patients who struggle with joint pain.
When you avoid activity because of your joint pain, you risk creating a vicious circle. Why? With the lack of activity, your muscles can start to atrophy and weaken. In turn, muscle weakness can worsen existing joint pain or cause joint pain elsewhere, further discouraging you from staying active.
When you regularly move your painful joint in controlled, safe exercises, you can work out the kinks in your muscles and ligaments, and build the strength you need to keep you on your feet and healthy going forward.
The health benefits of exercise for your body and mind are substantial. Exercise improves your heart health and blood pressure. You may also find your stress lessening, allowing you to relax more completely after an exercise session.
Weight loss can also improve joint pain issues, as less body weight means less pressure on each of your joints when you stand or move.
You can still exercise regularly even if you have joint pain in your shoulders, ankles, knees, or hips. You'll achieve the best results with medical support, and Dr. Renk and her team can recommend the best exercise strategies for your unique joint pain problems and lifestyle needs.
Some forms of exercise that can be helpful for people with joint pain issues include:
Walking three or four times each week is a simple and easy way to improve your sense of well-being and heart health. Low-impact exercise, like walking with high-quality cushioning from your shoes, can also actually make your joints feel better.
You can benefit from the effects of increased blood flow to your cartilage, delivering needed nutrients to help healing and regrowth. Moving also helps to lubricate your joints, so they move more easily the next time.
Cycling, particularly if you have arthritis, smooths out the jostling motions of jogging and still lets you work your legs. In addition to exercising your heart and encouraging weight loss, cycling lets you get to work on building up your leg muscle strength.
Strengthening the muscles that support your joints can help you avoid the debilitating impacts of joint pain.
Swimming is a great way to enjoy a supported, low-impact cardiovascular workout. In the water, you have to support only about 10% of your body weight. The water holds up the rest of your weight. Swimming gives your joints a break from load-bearing, while still allowing you to move your joints and exercise your muscles.
With regular swimming, you can build your flexibility and strength. We often recommend swimming for patients with joint pain and arthritis.
Tai chi, Pilates, and yoga are forms of structured stretching and strength training that take motions slowly to prevent injury or over-extension. You can practice alone at home, or with a group.
These disciplines can be a good place to start if you’re dealing with debilitating pain, as you can start gently and build up to a more rigorous workout.
To build up the quad and hamstring muscles in your legs, try professionally guided strength training. Repeated squats, leg presses and extensions, and lunges work the muscles in the front of your legs that support your knee joints.
With strength training, your leg muscles become increasingly effective and stable. We can work with you to put together a low-impact strength training plan that won’t trigger joint pain flare-ups.
With strong whole-body health, you can work with Dr. Renk to relieve your chronic joint pain problems and keep living your life.
Even non-structured activity around your home or garden that lets you use your muscles and work your heart and breathing helps to keep you in good shape. Getting out while the sun shines can improve your whole outlook on the issue.
To talk to Dr. Renk about your joint pain needs, reach out to Alpenglow Pain & Wellness today! Call our office in Anchorage, Alaska, at 907-313-2976, or send a message to Dr. Renk and the team here on our website.