Did you know that keeping your joints strong and healthy is essential for pain-free movement throughout your life? As we age, our joints can suffer from wear and tear, causing discomfort, stiffness, and sometimes even chronic pain. Joint pain, particularly knee pain, is a common issue that can impact our daily activities and overall quality of life.
However, fear not! There is evidence to suggest that regular exercise can help keep our joints in top shape, providing support and promoting mobility. In this blog post, we will explore 12 gentle exercises that target joint health. By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can help maintain and even improve joint function.
As with any exercise program, don't forget to listen to your body and progress at a comfortable pace. Make sure to also consult your GP or your Simba health coach before beginning any new exercise regimen, particularly if you have existing health conditions or concerns.
Range of Motion Exercises
Range of motion exercises help maintain flexibility and reduce stiffness in your joints. Incorporating these simple exercises into your daily routine can improve your joint health and overall mobility. Some examples include ankle circles, wrist circles, and shoulder rolls .
Research has shown that range of motion exercises can reduce joint pain and stiffness in older adults . To get started, try the free 15 minute routine below which features whole-body movements to get the blood flowing into your joints:
Seated Leg Raise
The quadriceps muscles play a crucial role in supporting and stabilising the knee joint. Strengthening these muscles can alleviate knee pain and enhance overall joint stability . A popular and gentle exercise for strengthening the quadriceps is the seated leg raise .
To perform this exercise, sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift one leg until it's straight, hold for a few seconds, then lower it back down. Repeat 10-15 times for each leg.
To see how to perform a seated leg raise, watch the video below:
Lying Leg Curl
The hamstrings, located at the back of your thighs, also contribute to knee stability. Strengthening these muscles can help prevent knee injuries and support joint health .
A simple and effective hamstring exercise is the lying leg curl . Lie on your stomach with your legs straight. Bend one knee and slowly bring your heel towards your buttocks. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times for each leg.
To see how to perform a lying leg curl, watch the video below:
Strong calf muscles provide stability for your ankles, knees, and hips. Calf raises are an easy exercise to perform at home or in the gym .
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and slowly raise your heels off the ground, keeping your knees straight. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower your heels back down. Repeat 10-15 times.
To see how to perform a calf raise, watch the video below:
Hip abductors are essential for maintaining balance and preventing falls, which can be particularly important for older adults . A straightforward hip abduction exercise is the standing leg lift .
Stand next to a wall or chair for support, and slowly lift one leg out to the side. Keep your toes pointed forward and your knee straight. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your leg back down. Repeat 10-15 times for each leg. To see how to perform a standing leg lift, watch the video below:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your hips back down. Repeat 10-15 times.
To see how to perform a glute bridge, watch the video below:
Wall squats are a gentle exercise that helps to strengthen knees and improve overall joint health .
Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly slide your back down the wall, bending your knees until they're at a 90-degree angle. Keep your knees aligned with your toes and ensure they don't extend past your toes. Hold for a few seconds, then slide back up the wall. Repeat 10-15 times.
To see how to perform a wall squat, watch the video below:
Seated Toe Taps
Seated toe taps are a low-impact exercise that targets the muscles around your ankles and knees, helping to improve joint stability and alleviate joint pain .
To perform this exercise, sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your heels on the ground, slowly lift your toes and then tap them back down. Repeat this movement 10-15 times for each foot.
If you're still unsure on how to perform a seated toe tap check out the video below:
Side-Lying Leg Circles
Side-lying leg circles help to strengthen the muscles around your hips, knees, and ankles, promoting joint health and stability .
To perform this exercise, lie on your side with your legs extended and your head resting on your arm. Slowly lift your top leg a few inches off the ground and perform small circles with your foot in a clockwise direction. After 10-15 repetitions, switch to a counterclockwise direction. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
If you're still unsure on how to perform a side-lying leg circle check out the video below:
Swimming is a low-impact aerobic exercise that can help alleviate joint pain and improve joint function . The buoyancy of the water supports your body weight, reducing stress on your joints and allowing for greater flexibility . Incorporating swimming into your exercise routine can help strengthen the muscles around your joints, providing additional support and stability .
Yoga is a gentle exercise that can improve joint health by increasing flexibility, balance, and strength . Many yoga poses target specific joints, such as the hips, knees, and ankles, and can help to alleviate joint pain .
Furthermore, yoga has been found to reduce inflammation and improve overall joint function in individuals with arthritis .
Consider joining a local yoga class or following online videos (like the one below!) to incorporate yoga into your exercise routine.
Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art that focuses on slow, controlled movements and deep breathing. Research has shown that Tai Chi can improve balance, flexibility, and muscle strength, contributing to better joint health . In addition, Tai Chi has been found to reduce joint pain and stiffness in individuals with arthritis .
If you are interested in giving it a try, look for Tai Chi classes in your area or follow free online videos, such as this beginner 15-minute routine by Helen Liang below: