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Strength training has a wealth of benefits including weight loss, better mood, increased mobility and better bone density. As we age, it is important to care for our bones and joints to keep them moving like a well-oiled machine.
Arthritis can occur in people of all ages but is most common in older adults. It can vary from mild to severe and can cause pain and swelling in the joints. Although exercise may be uncomfortable, getting moving every day will help decrease pain and improve your ability to do daily activities with ease.
Try these exercises to strengthen the muscles around your joints to help prevent injury and improve mobility and function.
5 Best Strength Training Exercises for Your Joints
1. Wall Sits
Isometric exercises involve holding a pose for an extended period. The muscles are challenged but since there is no change in the position isometric exercises are good for people with joint pain.
- To do a wall sit, stand with your back against a wall and slowly walk your feet out until they are 2-3 feet away.
- Next, bend your knees and slide your back down the wall until you are in a seated position. Do not drop below 90 degrees at the hip. Make sure your knees and ankles are stacked creating a right angle.
- Breathe deeply and engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button to your spine.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Repeat 3 times.
2. Standing Rows
Resistance band exercises are great for strengthening muscles and improving joint mobility without using heavy weights. Seated rows work the muscles of the upper back and shoulders and are an excellent posture improving exercise.
- Start by looping a resistance band around a solid object such as a pole.
- Hold one end in each hand and stand up tall with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
- Take a deep breath and as you exhale pull the band towards your body keeping your elbows close to your side and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Return to starting position and repeat 10-15 times.
- Repeat 3 sets.
According to the American Academy or Orthopedic Surgeons, body weight and weight-bearing exercise such as walking is best for maintaining strong and dense bones, preventing osteoporosis. Bridges require no equipment and are easy to do anywhere.
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Place your hands by your side, palms down.
- Slowly lift your buttocks off the ground until your body is in a straight line. Squeeze your glutes and hold this position for 2 seconds.
- Return to starting position and repeat 10-15 times.
- Repeat 3 sets.
4. Modified Pushups
It is important not to forget to do upper body weight bearing exercises. This modified version of a pushup can help improve upper body strength and joint stability without overstressing your muscles and joints.
- Stand facing a high table. Place both hands on the table slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Slowly lower yourself down towards the table keeping your elbows close to your body.
- Go as low as you are able and then push yourself away from the table back to the starting position.
- Repeat 10-15 times. Complete 3 sets. If these are challenging, try doing the same movement in a more upright position against a wall.
Your spine is a series of joints that play a role in everything that you do. Good spine mobility and core strength will not only prevent back pain but help you in all other exercises as well. This popular back extension exercise is ideal for spine flexibility and strength.
- Start by lying on a floor or bed flat on your stomach.
- Extend your arms above your head and your feet straight back behind you.
- Keeping your gaze towards the ground slow lift your hands and feet about 6 inches off the floor. Feel the muscles in your lower back contract and actively engage your abdominals by lifting your belly button off the ground.
- Hold this position for 2 seconds and return arms and legs to the floor. Do not try to reach too far off the ground, but just enough to feel a contraction.
- Repeat 5-10 times. 3 sets. If this is too challenging, try doing just the arms.
Always consult a physician before beginning an exercise program. These exercises may not be appropriate for everyone, and you must find the activities best for you. See a physical therapist or personal trainer to ensure you are doing the exercises correctly before starting a home program.
Always perform a 10-15 minute warm up before any resistance training. This can include a brisk walk or some dynamic stretches. If any of these exercises cause you pain, dizziness, or extreme discomfort stop and seek medical attention.
These low impact exercise can help you reap all the benefits of weight training without putting too much stress on your joints. Bodyweight and resistance exercise will help improve bone density, leading to less risk of fractures. Resistance exercise also improves muscle strength which can result in better stabilization of the joints and less chance of injury.
Horsak, B., Artner, D., Baca, A., Pobatschnig, B., Greber-Platzer, S., Nehrer, S., & Wondrasch, B. (2015). The effects of a strength and neuromuscular exercise programme for the lower extremity on knee load, pain, and function in obese children and adolescents: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 16, 586. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-015-1091-5
Pagan, C.N. (n.d.) Circuit Training Workouts. Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/simple-routines/circuit-training-workouts.php
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2014). Living With Arthritis: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family. Retrieved from http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/arthritis/
Campbell, B. (2012). Exercise and Bone Health. Retrieved from http://orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00674
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