5 Best Exercises to Alleviate Joint Pain

People with arthritis face a major conundrum, and it’s this: Exercise is essential if they want to reduce joint pain and maintain optimal function, but how can they exercise when they’re in pain?

The short answer is to begin very slowly and gently. Most importantly, exercise under the guidance of Behnam Khaleghi, MD, and our team at Pacific Rheumatology. We can recommend exercises that are safe for your joints and help you learn when pain and inflammation mean it’s time to temporarily cut back on exercising.

Why movement alleviates joint pain

Exercise builds and strengthens the muscles that surround and support the joints. With regular exercise, these muscles are better equipped to maintain joint movement and reduce the pain. But the benefits of exercise don’t stop there.

Purposeful movement is the only way to keep synovial fluid flowing through the joint. And synovial fluid has three essential jobs: 1) It delivers oxygen and nutrients to key tissues in the joint like articular cartilage, 2) it carries away toxic wastes, and 3) it lubricates the joint.

Most of the cartilage inside the joint doesn’t have a blood supply. Instead, it depends on synovial fluid to keep it healthy. As synovial fluid lubricates the joint, bones move smoothly and with less pain.

Five types of exercise to alleviate joint pain

When it comes to alleviating joint pain, it’s important to include a variety of exercises. That way you won’t add stress to the joint by repeating the same exercise. 

We recommend five exercise categories: strength training, range-of-motion exercises, stretching exercises, low-impact aerobic exercise, and alternative movement therapies.

Within each category, you have many choices of exercises and activities. This gives you the ability to mix it up and switch between gentle and more demanding exercises, depending on the current health of your joints.

Strength training

Strengthening the muscles around your joints takes stress off the joint and ensures the muscles can support balanced joint movement. The exercises you need in your regimen depend on the joint that’s in pain. 

If you have knee pain, then you should focus on exercises that work your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and hip muscles, as one example. You also take stress from all your joints if you include exercises that build your core muscles.

Range-of-motion exercises

These exercises maintain joint flexibility and reduce stiffness by putting the joint through its full range of motion. Range of motion refers to the normal movement of each joint in specific directions.

When performing flexibility exercises, move slowly, gently, and smoothly. With slow movement, you can feel the pain and stop before you suddenly move the joint too far.

Here are two examples of exercises for shoulder movement:

Raise your arm straight up and then lower it, bringing it as far behind your body as possible.

Raise your arm up to the side, over your head, back down, and then across your body as though reaching for the other shoulder.

Stretching exercises

Stretching exercises go hand in hand with your strengthening regimen and range-of-motion exercises. You should stretch all the same muscle groups that you strengthen. 

Low-impact aerobic exercise

Low-impact aerobic exercise boosts your circulation, improves your overall health, and triggers the release of pain-relieving endorphins. The great thing about this category is that you can choose the type of exercise you enjoy.

Some of the best low-impact aerobic activities include walking, using an elliptical trainer or treadmill, bicycling, swimming, and water aerobics.

Exercising in water is gentle on your joints. Water provides resistance so you can strengthen muscles, but its buoyancy reduces the impact on your joints.

Alternative movement therapies

Mindful movement therapies such as yoga and tai chi are gentle on joints, build muscle strength, and improve flexibility, balance, and function. Most people find that these therapies also boost their mood and help control stress.

If you have questions or would like help developing an exercise plan for your joints, call Pacific Rheumatology or book an appointment online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Is Your Diet to Blame for Inflammation?

Following a healthy diet has a new meaning when you know that the foods you eat can either increase or decrease inflammation. Here's what you should know about the effect of foods and how you can use them to get relief from inflammatory conditions.

Conditions That Can Be Helped with PRP

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is one of today's starring regenerative treatments, using your own healing cells as medicine to treat many health problems. Learn about the painful and inflammatory conditions that may improve with PRP.

How Inflammation Impacts Your Health

Chronic inflammation has a powerful impact on your health and longevity. More than half of all deaths are attributed to inflammation-related diseases. But you can fight the effect of chronic inflammation with a holistic approach to your health care.

What Makes PRP Therapy So Effective?

If you live with a chronic rheumatic disease or an ongoing problem like tendonitis, you owe it to yourself to learn about PRP therapy. PRP heals and eases pain using your body's own regenerative cells. Learn what makes PRP so effective.

Should I Be Taking Anti-inflammatory Supplements?

Anti-inflammatory supplements are one of the most powerful tools you have for reducing bodywide inflammation. Keeping inflammation under control goes a long way toward easing pain and preventing chronic health conditions.