The best way to keep your joints healthy is to BE ACTIVE. A sedentary lifestyle of sitting most of the day is not good for your joints, especially your knees. Moving your body regularly ensures adequate synovial fluid circulation within your joints to keep them healthy and to prevent stiffness. Losing bodyweight is particularly recommended to lessen knee pain due to cartilage breakdown. Every pound you lose removes four pounds of pressure from knees. Daily stretching is strongly recommended to lessen joint stiffness and pain. Just be sure to warm up your muscles prior to stretching to loosen up the tendons and ligaments surrounding your joints. Low-impact cardio exercises (e.g., walking, biking, swimming, etc.) are recommended to protect your joints from cartilage damage. Weight lifting is also encouraged to strengthen your muscles surrounding your joints and to lessen the risk of arthritis. Be sure to move your joints in a FULL RANGE OF MOTION when exercising to lessen stiffness. Also, perform core-strengthening exercises that work your abdominals, lower back, gluteals, and hamstrings to maintain a strong foundation for your joints. Eat fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, etc.) to lessen joint inflammation as well as plenty of dairy products containing calcium and vitamin D to maintain strong bones. Maintain good posture to protect your joints by performing exercises such as fast walking and swimming regularly.
Knee pain is usually the result of stiffness brought on by inactivity or immobilization of the knee joint. Many who suffer from osteoarthritis complain of joint stiffness and pain. Knee pain is especially felt when bending over or squatting. So what can one do to alleviate stiffness and the accompanying pain that results? Losing body weight will certainly help to reduce the load placed on the knee joints. Each pound of body weight lost subtracts four pounds of pressure on the knee joints. Performing joint movements will certainly help lessen joint stiffness. Exercise will help to lose body weight and increase joint mobility. As a result, exercise can also bring relief from pain. The key is to perform exercise on a consistent basis (i.e., at least 3 times per week). Since exercise initially tends to cause knee pain, most people would rather avoid it. But this is a mistake! Not being active will only exacerbate stiffness, pain and immobility.
So what exercises should you do to bring about relief from knee pain? Any low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming, biking, walking, and water aerobics are ideal. Aim for 30 minutes of low-impact aerobic exercise on most days of the week. Anaerobic exercises are also highly recommended several days per week to maintain if not increase strength of the muscles surrounding your knees. Bodyweight exercises such as supine, side-lying and prone single straight-leg knee raises are good warm-up exercises for each knee. Closed-chain isometric exercises can be good for aching knees. Try holding a squat against a wall for at least 10 seconds at a time and perform this exercise several times. Slowly perform calf raises off of a ledge (e.g., stair) for up to 15 reps for several sets using both or either leg at a time. Step-ups (e.g., stairs) is a superb exercise for strengthening the muscles above each knee. Perform resistance training exercises like leg extensions and leg curls to strengthen the quads and hamstrings, respectively. Be sure to perform up to 15 reps of leg presses to strengthen your quads.
Stretching every day is essential to reduce joint and muscle stiffness. Perform quad, hamstring and calf stretches daily. Be sure to hold each stretch up to 30 seconds and repeat two to four times. Refer to the exercise portion of this blog for how to perform certain stretches. Tai Chi and yoga are other options for stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding your knees. Most importantly, listen to your body and know your limits! Never push through bad pain! Apply an ice pack to an aching joint for up to 15 minutes to reduce inflammation. Taking a nice hot bath may also relieve sore joints.
When you lose bodyfat a whole multitude of positive healthy outcomes takes place including:
BOTTOM LINE: Exercise and a healthy diet can resolve many chronic conditions plaguing humans today. Instead of reaching for quick-fix medications which may have side-effects, reach for a dumbbell and eat your broccoli.
The answer is simple although the people who use these machines probably are not aware of why they use them. The reason people tend to opt for the elliptical machine rather than most other machines is because it's very easy on the joints and does not require much resistance to move the body. In other words, the elliptical machine is the easiest cardio activity to do. Because it is easy, people naturally want to use it rather than to try a machine that might take them out of their comfort zone.
The elliptical machine can be very useful for older adults or those with arthritis, but for most people it's not a very efficient tool to burn calories. The winner in the caloric expenditure department goes to the treadmill, followed by (from highest to lowest caloric expenditure) the stairstepper (stepmill), the rowing machine, the upright bike, and finally the recombinant bike.
The reality is that, in general, the elliptical machine does not elevate the heart rate nor does it burn bodyfat adequately. This is due to the fact that movement on these machines relies primarily on momentum rather than resistance. Momentum is simply the product of a body's mass and its velocity. Just as in weight training, if you move the joints quickly (increasing velocity), momentum increases while resistance decreases. The net result is essentially less real work being done since less force (resistance) is exerted. Now you know why people like to move quickly on the elliptical machines: it makes the exercise easier!
No matter which machine you choose, be sure not to lean most of your bodyweight on the hand rails for support. These railings are designed for your balance, not for support. By leaning predominantly on these railings, you'll reduce your caloric expenditure because your lower body will not be working as hard as it should. Straighten your posture by pulling your shoulders back and looking straight ahead. Rest your hands lightly on the rails to get an optimum workout. If you still cannot resist leaning heavily on the rails, you need to reduce the intensity on the machine--you're pushing way too hard. On the other hand, if you can read a book or comfortably breathe through your nose while doing cardio, your intensity level is way too low. Step up the intensity!
Bottom line: if you want to burn serious calories, you have to work hard to do it--sorry, working out on the elliptical machine does not qualify, in most cases, as hard work. Get out of your comfort zone and hit the treadmill, stairstepper or rower instead.
In order for your joints to last a lifetime you need to take care of them now. How? Here are some tips:
As we all know, mornings are the time when the joints of the body are most stiff as a result of not being warm. But this should not preclude you from striving to stretch out those stiff joints in the morning before getting on with your day. Here's the key: warm up those stiff joints first before stretching. How? Take a nice warm shower or bath after rising out of bed in the morning. This will allow more pliability of the joints prior to stretching them.
Stretches for the Back, Hips and Knees:
Hamstring/Lower Back stretch:
Stretches for the Shoulders and Chest:
Rear Shoulder stretch:
Stretches for the Hands and Fingers:
Walking, biking, rowing, and swimming are at the top of the list. All are superb exercises because they are considered low-impact exercises and are therefore easy on the joints. Swimming is ideal for those who are overweight, obese, and/or have osteoarthritis. Swimming is also an excellent exercise for pregnant women. Plus, it's never too late to start! Here are just some of the benefits of swimming:
Contrary to recommendations in the past which indicated rest, nowadays exercise is considered better medicine for those suffering from arthritis. Why is this? Because exercise helps to reduce joint stiffness and pain. For those suffering from the debilitating symptoms of arthritis, it's imperative to resist the urge not to exercise! Why? Because being sedentary will only make your symptoms worse such as more stiffness and pain. Exercise serves to strengthen muscles and protect joint integrity. Contrary to popular opinion, exercise will lessen pain, increase mobility, and help control your bodyweight. Here are recommended exercise guidelines for those with arthritis: