Disclaimer: Before beginning any exercise plan or program, make sure you consult with a healthcare provider who can help you make safe and appropriate choices.
If you struggle with knee or joint pain, or you’re affected by arthritis or osteoarthritis, exercise can feel like a brutal chore you can’t help but dread. Chronic health conditions are not only energy-draining, but often discouraging if even the most simple activities are made difficult by pain.
Knee/Joint Pain and Exercise
Experts recommend a healthy dose of physical activity at least five days (150 minutes) per week, or 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each day. But if your knees or joints are in persistent pain, this can be a big buzz kill to your motivation and fitness goals. However, this doesn’t mean that exercise has to cause you pain each and every time you get moving. Consider these tips for minimizing the effects of knee/joint pain to help you stay active:
Minimizing Pain before Exercise
Before you begin a workout, try applying heat to your joints and muscles to relieve any existing pain. Whether it’s a hot towel, steamy shower or a hot pack, heat is known to relax your body and alleviate tension. Leave the heat on for a minimum of 10-15 minutes to increase its effectiveness.
Also before beginning a workout, make it a point to assess your level of pain. If you’re in a lot of it, take it extra easy and choose a workout that won’t add to your ailments. If your pain is at a lower level, consider increasing your exercise intensity by a small amount.
There are various things you can do during exercise to minimize the onset of pain:
- Choose Low-impact Activities like swimming/water aerobics, bike riding or walking.
- Do a Warm-up to gently condition your body for upcoming movement.
- Include Range-of-Motion Exercises to strengthen your joints and mobility.
- Move Slowly to prevent sharp pain and don’t be afraid to take a break.
After you finish a workout, give yourself at least five minutes to cool down before moving on to your next activity of the day. If you feel pain when your workout is completed, try icing your joints and muscles for up to 20 minutes to alleviate inflammation. If your knee/joint pain is chronic by nature, ice might be a good idea even if you’re not experiencing pain in the present moment.
Even if you live with chronic pain in your knees and/or joints, it shouldn’t have the power to prevent you from getting the physical activity you need to stay healthy. Before trying a new exercise plan or program, consult with a health professional to ensure your safety and well-being. Know that you have options for preventing and reducing pain and that your fitness journey is allowed to look different than someone else’s, especially if your needs are different.