People who live with chronic joint pain know how debilitating it can be. Joint pain makes doing daily activities difficult and typically has a negative effect on the quality of life. It can steal away joy from doing the things they love and spending time with loved ones.
Chronic joint pain affects approximately 100 million Americans each year. Fortunately, there are exercises and self-care practices that help reduce and maintain pain. Exercises are designed to reduce inflammation, increase mobility, strengthen joints, and regain range of motion. Ideally, by implementing an exercise routine, there is no need for medication to manage the pain.
Working with a physical therapist or pain specialist is a great way to learn the proper exercise techniques that will help manage and reduce chronic pain. It’s important to remember not to force exercise or continue if it worsens your pain. Listen to you body and do what feels best!
Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Types of Exercises to Reduce Chronic Joint Pain
Stretching helps relieve tension and stiffness that causes joint pain. Stretching does not require any equipment, so these can be done at-home, on-the-go, or even at work. Stretches are designed for certain areas of pain, like knee pain, neck pain, and back pain.
Cardiovascular exercises have a large impact on chronic pain and reducing symptoms that are caused by living with pain. Little-to-no equipment is needed for cardio exercises and they are relatively easy to incorporate into your daily life. Walking is the easiest way to get moving and increase your heart rate, endurance, and strength. If walking is challenging at first, start with short walks and slowly build up the distance overtime.
Swimming and water aerobics are another great cardio option for those living with chronic pain. Being in the water takes the pressure off your joints so you can exercise with ease. This is especially important for patients with low-mobility. Moving in the water adds natural resistance while no additional stress or pressure on your joints is present. Being in the water is often therapeutic, too. Improving your mood is critical to managing chronic pain.
Low-Impact Group Classes
Low-impact exercises are a great way to build muscle strength to better support joints that cause pain. Group setting classes, such as cycling or aerobics, can be beneficial to pain patients. Group classes are usually designed around a certain level of ability, meaning pain patients can take classes that best suit their needs and functions. Group settings are also great for accountability, which is important when trying to exercise regularly.
Cycling, for example, is a smoother motion for the joints as opposed to jogging which can cause further damage and pain. If your pain levels allow, trying cycling a few times a week. The pedaling motions and breathing rhythms are excellent for increasing oxygen flow to the muscles and releasing endorphins that reduce chronic pain.
Exercises that focus on balance, core strength, and self-awareness like Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates are excellent for managing pain. They improve coordination and balance, which helps increase a sense of where joints are located and how to relieve tensions and pressure on those joints. These exercises include moves that increase flexibility and range of motion. This can loosen joints, which improves their function.
These exercises will help teach proper posture and body positions that align your joints and muscles, in hopes that your pain will be reduced.
Everyday Health: Joint Pain Relief Exercises
NCBI: Chronic Pain for Joint Pain
Mayo Clinic: Exercises to Relieve Arthritis Pain