Exercise and Your Joints
Overcoming the Challenges of Weak Knees, Wrists, and Ankles
People who have joint problems can have trouble exercising, as the pain of their injury may be just too great to take advantage of the health benefits of working out. The good news is that there are some things you can do that may help ease the pain so you can get into a consistent workout regimen.
By now, you should know all of the health benefits that you get from exercising on a regular basis, so you should want to do everything you can to do so, even with joint problems. Here are some things you can try in order to get your joints in good enough shape to exercise.
Why Do Your Joints Hurt?
The first thing you need to do is understand why your joints hurt in the first place. If you have arthritis or naturally-occurring inflammation in any of your joints, you may need to learn to deal with the pain. If on the other hand, your joints ache because they are merely weak, there are some exercises you can do to improve your condition.
Joints — especially your wrists and ankles — weaken because they are exposed to high impacts during exercise and sports. This can cause them to become inflamed and make any physical activity unbearable for a time. The tendons and muscles can absorb most of the impacts, causing pain and discomfort.
Wrist and Ankle Exercises
If you want to improve your join condition so you can exercise more often, there are a few exercises you can try.
For wrists, you can try wrist curls, where you take a small amount of weight (just a few pounds, no more) and do a few sets of 10 curls with your wrists, first with your palms facing downward and then facing upward. This exercise will hit all of the major muscles in your wrist and help strengthen them. You can also try squeezing a small ball in the palm of your hand or using a small piece of resistance equipment. If your wrists are especially sensitive, try using wrist wraps for CrossFit for added support.
For your ankles, calf raises are a great way to promote strength: stand on a short, elevated platform with your toes and where your heels can still touch the ground and then raise yourself up, focusing on your calf muscles. This will also benefit your ankles tremendously and give you the support you need for regular exercise.
Listen to Your Body
You may have to perform these exercises for a few weeks before your joints are strong enough to handle regular exercise. While you are strengthening your joints, pay attention to the response of your body so you can tell if you are pushing yourself too hard. Chronic pain or sharp jolts, while you exercise, can be a sign of injury, so stop immediately and consult a doctor.
Don’t let weak or achy joints stop you from reaping the benefits of regular exercise.
Matilda Rowe works as a fitness instructor at her local leisure center. She has 2 dogs who she exercises daily, enjoying their company on her hikes and runs, and is Mom to a 7 year old son.