Make Better Joint Health Part of Your New Year’s Resolution

Why does it seem that every New Year’s resolution seems to be about taking something away? We want to LOSE weight; we want to STOP smoking; we want to eat LESS junk food. All of those are noble causes. But how often do we set goals where we actually GAIN something? What if we could IMPROVE something we already have?

Shoulder stretch.jpgWe think the answer is simple: better joint health! Taking the right steps to improve our joint health helps to reduce the likelihood of injury and other aches and pains. It doesn’t take much to make an impact, either. Simple exercises and activities can make a big difference. We’ve outlined some things you can do below to protect some of the most common areas for joint pains, injuries and conditions. Before beginning any exercise or activity regimen, it’s important to check with your provider; if you already have a preexisting condition, some stretches and exercises may do more harm than good. For those cases, there may be other low-impact options that can still help you.

The Knee:

  • Straight Leg Raises: While standing, raise one leg off the ground without bending it at the knee. Perform this one at the office or at home while you’re waiting for the microwave or during commercial breaks of your favorite show.
  • Wall Squats: Sit with your back against a wall and keep your legs at a 90-degree angle. This is a more intensive exercise, so be sure you’re ready to feel the burn!
  • Step-Ups: Step up with your left, then your right, then step back down again. Repeat this motion, alternating between your left and right foot first. It’s that easy. This is a relatively low impact exercise you can do in your own home.

The Shoulder

  • Push-ups: Build strength in the joint with this pressing exercise. You can vary the degree of difficulty and pressure depending on your ability.
  • Windmills: Stretch your arms out at your sides and rotate your arm in small circles.
  • Stretches: Hold your right arm straight across your chest, so your right hand is to the left of your body. Grab your right elbow with your left hand and pull your arm across your body. Repeat with the left arm.

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The Hip

  • Lunges: Take long, lunging steps without letting your knee hit the floor. Without leaning down or using an additional support, take another step forward.
  • Using a tension band around your ankles, take side steps to the left and right, stepping into the resistance as far as you comfortably can
  • Step-Ups: This motion has dual benefit as it will strengthen your knee and your hip at the same time!

Once again, it’s important to remember to consult with your physician prior to beginning any exercise regimen. You don’t have to push yourself too hard at first either. It’s important to work into your goals rather than trying to do too much too quickly. If you perform these exercises at least three times a week and supplement it with additional cardio and a balanced diet, who knows what else you’ll gain?

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