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Chronic joint pain often makes people want to quit exercising. However, this would be a mistake. Being sedentary is only going to lead to you being weaker and more out of shape, which will end up making things worse. But how do you still keep active when you suffer from chronic joint pain? Below are a few tips that can help.
One mistake many make (chronic joint pain or not) is that they just dive right into their workout without properly warming up. Certified sports medicine specialist David Kruse, MD says “Joints hurt more when muscles and tendons are stiff. As we age, our joint mobility and tissue flexibility decline; a thorough warm-up helps accommodate these changes.”
Don’t think you have to do too much, though. A little bit of light cardio followed by a light dynamic warm up would suffice fine. Choose low or no impact exercises such as mountain climber stretches, T-push ups, and fire hydrant circles. Just be sure to use a range of motion that works for you and doesn’t worsen any potential pain.
Ballistic shock that comes with activities like jogging may or may not make your chronic joint pain worse in the long-term, but it almost always temporarily exacerbates discomfort. Better choices for cardio would be a stationary bike or elliptical machine. Rowers are another good option, but just be sure to do your rowing in a smooth and controlled fashion instead of fast and jerky.
Don’t be afraid to modify some exercises if it means being able to perform them with less or no pain. For example, if your wrists hurt while doing planks with outstretched arms, plank while resting on your forearms, instead. If your knees hurt more near the fully squatted position, shorten your range of motion such that you’re only squatting where it’s pain-free.
Just like ballistic shock isn’t good for your chronic joint pain, neither is using a lot of weight. However, you can still get good muscle stimulation by using a lighter weight for slower reps. You can keep your normal 8-12 rep ranges, but use a reduced load and take at least 2-4 seconds for every eccentric and concentric. Don’t lock out any rep, nor rest in the stretched position to keep continuous tension on the muscle.
If yoga isn’t a part of your current exercise regimen, now might be a good time to start. Yoga only uses your own body weight for resistance, and places emphasis on slowly and incrementally increasing your flexibility. At the same time, many of yoga’s “strength” poses are static holds, which can strengthen the muscle around joints while minimizing how much work or movement they have to endure.
Chronic joint pain might make you have to change things up, or even slow you down, but it doesn’t have to stop you. You can still be active, strong, and healthy if you just change a few things up. Ensure you do a proper warm up, add in some yoga, and choose/modify activities to eliminate as much pain as possible. Do all this and you’ll still find yourself progressing, despite your joint issues.