Joint pain can rob you of life's simple pleasures—you may no longer look forward to walking your dog, gardening, or chasing a tennis ball across the court. Even the basics of getting through your day, like getting into the car or carrying laundry to the basement, can become sharp reminders of your limitations.
Keep on moving
It is tempting to avoid the motions that cause you pain. But limiting your movements can weaken muscles and make compound joint trouble worse.
And actually movement— in the form of the right exercises performed properly —can be a long-lasting way to subdue ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. For some people, the right exercise routine can even help delay or sidestep surgery.
Your goal should be to pair gentle, targeted joint workouts with a simple walking routine. Your doctor should advise you before you begin a new exercise program.
Simple stretching tips
If you start targeted joint exercises, these simple stretching tips are important to any workout:
- Warm up first. Muscles stretch more easily when warm. Try doing warm-ups before a workout, or take a warm shower or bath first.
- Feel no pain. Stretch only to the point of mild tension, never to the point of pain. If a stretch hurts, stop doing it. Reset your position carefully and try again. With time and practice, your flexibility will improve.
- Breathe. Breathe comfortably when stretching.
- Practice often. You'll see the best gains if you do gentle stretching frequently—several times a day on as many days of the week as possible.
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