6 exercises to strengthen your joints at home
Exercise is fundamental to maintaining joint mobility but, with older generations perhaps choosing not to leave the home during lockdown, it can be hard to think of new ways to keep moving. For those with joint problems like arthritis, long periods of inactivity can cause joints to stiffen up and become more painful.
How can I ease my joint pain?
Patients often work with osteopaths to relieve pain. After evaluating your condition, an osteopath can assign positions and exercises to ease your symptoms. They are trained in manipulative techniques that attempt to treat pain and may also be able to show you how to adjust your posture yourself and ease symptoms quite dramatically.
Thankfully for those who struggle with painful or stiff joints, there are some simple self-help methods to keep yourself (and your joints) moving, all from the comfort of your living room.
Here, Marc Holl, Professional Head of Physiotherapy at Nuffield Health – the UK’s largest healthcare charity – takes us through six exercises from a clinically-devised workout designed to help strengthen joints, that will suit any level of fitness.
Squats are a great exercise to incorporate into your routine; not only are they good for strengthening the muscles in your lower body, but they don’t require any equipment.
To perform the exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly turned out, with your back flat and chest proud. Push out your bum and bend your knees like you are sitting down into a chair. If this is too difficult, squat down into a chair for added support. If you’d like to make the exercise harder, just hold a weight to your chest as you perform the move.
2. Shoulder blade retractions
This exercise is designed to build upper body strength whilst working your back and arms. With your arms out in front of you, squeeze your shoulder blades together, being careful not to shrug. Relax, and repeat this move.
3. Leg extension
Sitting on a chair, and holding the sides of your seat, slowly raise your leg as far as your knee will allow and then slowly lower back down. If you have access to a resistance band this can be incorporated into the exercise.
Tie the band to the base of the seat or bench and tie the other end to your ankle, making sure that there is tension between the band and your leg. As before, holding the base of the seat, slowly raise your leg as far as the knee will allow, and lower back down.
4. Shoulder abductions
Stand with your back against a wall and slowly raise your arms by your side until they join above your head. Slowly lower them down using the same motion and repeat the exercise. If you have access to a resistance band, you can try a shoulder press.
Start in a seated position with your resistance band wrapped under you. Grab one side of the band in each hand, and bring your hands either side of your chest, keeping your chest proud and back straight. Raise your hands above the crown of your head and try to get hands to touch, keeping this motion slow and smooth.
5. Step up
This exercise can be performed using any step or flight of stairs at home. Making sure that your step is near something to hold on to, take one step onto the platform and raise the other leg to a 90-degree angle. Lower your leg back down, and repeat with the other leg. Alternatively, you can try toe taps instead of step-ups for a variation on this exercise.
6. Stability challenge
This exercise is designed to work your core, as well as improving stability. To perform it, you can use an uneven surface in your home. The goal here is to try and keep your balance; try and stay upright and find a static object ahead of you to focus on. If you are struggling with this, try balancing on one leg, and try to keep your balance for as long as possible.
Visit Nuffield Health for more information about this clinically-devised workout.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, use our free search tool to find an osteopath near you. They may be able to consult over the phone, relieving some of your symptoms prior to meeting face to face.