It is counterintuitive to be sure, but one of the best things you can do for aching joints is to move them.
In fact, some sort of gentle movement is so effective that just a little exercise at regular intervals can reduce the level of pain you are experiencing. With moderate exercise you can:
- Strengthen the muscles around the joints that ache
- Improve your balance, which will reduce the chances of falling and injuring or reinjuring a joint
- Maintain bone strength
- Provide weight control, which is critical. It has been estimated that one extra pound of body fat can translate into four pounds of additional weight through the knees
- Improve sleep, which helps the healing process
Getting that proper amount of exercise has been made more difficult by the stay-at-home directives we are all facing. That doesn't mean, however, that you have to stop exercising, it just means that your exercise regimen will look different for the short term.
If you used to walk in your neighborhood to ease knee pain, for example, you may still be able to do so as long as you adhere to local guidelines such as social distancing and/or wearing a mask. If you're unable to walk in your area, walk in your back or front yard. With no yard available, walk around your house or apartment for as long as you used to walk outside.
For inspiration, think of Elisha Nochomovitz, a 32-year-old furloughed restaurant worker in France who ran back-and-forth across his 23-foot balcony until he'd run the equivalent of a marathon.
Range-of-motion exercises that can help reduce pain include raising your arms over your head, bending forward to touch your ankles or toes, and rolling your shoulders to gain flexibility.
If you used to go to a gym for your aerobic workout, try running in place or gentle jumping jacks.
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