Does Exercise Help Joint Pain?

Exercise and joint pain, does it work?

Disclaimer: Initially drafted by AI, this article was edited by a human author to ensure accuracy and quality.

Are you tired of chronic joint pain and wondering if certain exercises could help? If yes, you’ve landed on the right article. Here we’ll explore the potential benefits of exercise for joint pain and what types of exercises are the best for your case.

TL;DR Article Summary

Done correctly, exercise indeed helps to alleviate joint pain. A combination of low-impact activities like walking and some strength training will strengthen your muscles, enhance flexibility, and promote weight loss, which will reduce strain on your joints. Exercise, however, is just one part of the picture in managing joint pain – diet, sleep, and supplementation are three other important aspects.

What is Joint Pain?

Joint pain is something common, very common today in fact. It can show up in any part of your body where two or more bones come together. The pain can range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain and can massively affect your life.

The causes, as we’ve said, can be numerous, from arthritis – both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – to injuries or certain conditions like lupus or gout. Joint pain can essentialy be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). There are many ways you can manage it, exercise is one of the best. [1]

The Importance of Exercise

Exercise is beneficial for overall health and well-being. It keeps your hearts healthy, supports weight loss, boosts mood, strengthens your muscles, and improves sleep quality. However, what many people don’t know is that it also plays a role in joint health.

Simply put, exercise isn’t just about getting leaner or building muscles, it can also diminish joint pain if done correctly.

Exercise and Joint Health

So, how does exercise benefit our joint health? First, exercise helps you build and maintain strong muscle tissue.

  • Strong muscles are essentially your joints’ bodyguards – providing support and decreasing the workload on your joints. Not only that, regular movement helps keep the joints flexible. By exercising, you also lose excess pounds, putting less stress on your knees and hips.

So, now that you’ve gotten the reasons for why exercise is good for your joint health, let’s look at how exactly exercise helps reduce joint pain.

How Exercise Helps Reduce Joint Pain

You may ask, “wait, won’t exercising exacerbate my joint pain?” This is a common misconception. It’s the opposite. By strengthening the muscles around your joints, the impact on those joints is lessened.

What you perhaps didn’t know, is that exercise stimulates the production of synovial fluid, your body’s natural joint lubricant, making movement smoother and less painful.

Going a step further, exercise is shown in studies to lessen joint pain linked to conditions like osteoarthritis. [2]

Best Types of Exercises for Joint Pain

Low-impact exercises are the best for joint pain. They are gentle on your joints but at the same time effective at strengthening your muscles and improving flexibility. Here are a few examples:

  1. Swimming: This is one of the best alternatives to strength and resistance training for the purpose of reducing joint pain. Water supports your body weight, which minimizes the impact on your joints while strengthening your muscles.
  2. Walking: A simple walk can do a lot more than you may think. It’s excellent for maintaining joint health. Walking helps boost bone health while being gentle on your joints.
  3. Cycling: Cycling is a good workout for your legs without putting a whole lot of strain on your knee joints.
  4. Strength Training: Using light weights will strengthen your joint-surrounding muscles to provide better supports. But strength training can also be problematic if you lift too heavy. Speaking of which…

Things to Consider When Exercising with Joint Pain

While exercise is all good, don’t forget to be smart about it to avoid pain and injury. Start little by little. Gradually bump up the difficulty of an exercise as you get stronger. Warming up before your exercise and cooling down afterwards is crucial also.

Something that most of us neglect is wearing the right shoes for support and comfort. This can make a massive difference. If you’re new to exercising or have severe joint pain, then it’s best to check with your MD before trying on your own.

The Role of a Balanced Lifestyle

Although the spotlight of this article is exercise for joint pain, this is just one part of a much larger picture. What else does the larger picture include, you ask? The answer is a nutritious diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, 7-9 hours of sleep, sufficient hydration, supplements, and stress reduction. Only then will you see concrete, lasting results in your joint health.

Final Word

The saying ‘motion is lotion’ really is true when it comes to joint health. Exercise, when done the right way, will not worsen joint pain but actually reduce it.

Swimming, cycling, and walking are all low-impact exercises that you can do that your joints will be thankful for. They all improve muscle strength, increase flexibility, and reduce joint pain from multiple angles.

Start slowly and gradually and then work your way up over time. If you get any sharp pains or discomfort, it’s your body telling you you’re doing something wrong. Be smart about it – stop doing that exercise and check with your doctor.

In the end, combining the aforementioned exercises with a healthy diet and plentiful rest is the best way to really notice the difference in how you move and feel.

References

  1. Hardin JG. Arthralgia. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 160. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK303/
  2. Susko AM, Fitzgerald GK. The pain-relieving qualities of exercise in knee osteoarthritis. Open Access Rheumatol. 2013 Oct 15;5:81-91. doi: 10.2147/OARRR.S53974. PMID: 27790027; PMCID: PMC5074793.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5074793/

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