Exercise for Joint Health (2014-02-23)
By now, you’ve probably got it figured out that in order to remain healthy and fit especially as you age, exercise as well as optimum nutrition are key. But if your body just doesn’t seem to want to get with the program, what do you do? The following article helps in understanding how the body works during movement and what’s critical to focus on to get you started in the right direction.
Baby Boomer Exercise for Joint Health
By Debra Atkinson
Shake, rattle, and roll! If that reminds you more of your joints than music there’s a good chance you’re over 50. Decades of activity and different experiences are bound to cause some joint stress.
Movement doesn’t have to be painful. There are so many options for physical activity you can find some way to achieve physical activity even if you have to deal with chronic conditions. It is worth making sure that your joints are playing the right role in your movement before you move into action however. Some joints are meant to move and others should be stable. When the roles switch, pain is usually a symptom.
Your body moves with all joints in unison and rarely one joint at a time. This is referred to as your kinetic chain. Each joint plays its unique part. Your feet should be stable. Your ankle is a mobile joint. Even when you’re standing still small movements in your ankles are keeping you upright and helping you balance. For older adults the ankles sometimes lose mobility and become stiff with reduced range of motion. That can make you more vulnerable for falling, if not in your nifty-fifties or sassy sixties, inevitably later.
Working your way up the chain, your knees should be stable. They’re meant to hinge and only have slight rotational ability. Your hips, or pelvis should be mobile and your lumbar spine, in other words lower back, should be stable.
Above the lumbar area your thoracic spine in the upper back should be mobile. Your shoulder blades should be stable and your glenohumeral joints, your shoulders, should be mobile.
Often pain that shows up in one joint is an indication of a problem in another joint. Usually pain occurs in a joint that should be stable and has been compromised because another joint isn’t as mobile as it should be.
The lower back is one example. Lower back pain could be telling you that your upper back or your hips are not as mobile as they should be. Injury or inactivity can cause that to happen. The chronic sedentary positions we’re in at work and leisure can also contribute.
The knee is another joint where older adults commonly experience pain. Often knee pain is due to immobile ankles or hips.
With so many options where should you start? The most important thing, in any structure including your human body, is the foundation. Two areas that you want to make sure have good mobility are your ankles and your hips. These will have the greatest combined effect on your balance and ability to right yourself on unstable surfaces.
You can ask a fitness professional for assistance with stretches and exercises that will enhance these areas. You could also try a yoga class or one that focuses on stretching. Make sure if you’re experiencing pain during movement you get some one-to-one assistance modified to your specific needs.
We’d love to hear your questions or comments below. Thank you.
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