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8 Stretches for Joint Stiffness

older group of people exercising and practicing yoga together

As we age, our bodies begin to lose bone density and muscle mass which can lead to stiff joints and less flexibility. Stiff joints can impact your mobility by making it difficult to put weight on your joints when you're walking or standing. It can also be a sign of arthritis, lupus, gout, or fibromyalgia.

One of the most important things you can do to help reduce joint stiffness is exercise. Low-impact exercises work best because they put less stress on your muscles and joints but still work to improve muscle strength and cardiovascular health.

Here are 8 different low-impact exercises you can try to help reduce your joint stiffness:

  1. Stretching

Stretching is extremely important to help keep your muscles strong and healthy. Stretching daily can help increase your range of motion, reduce stiffness, and improve your flexibility.

Most people don't stretch as often as they should which can result in shortened and tightened muscles, making your muscles weaker and putting you more at risk for developing joint pain.

Consistency is the most important factor when it comes to stretching. It may have taken months to get tight muscles and joint stiffness, so don't expect to feel perfectly fine after stretching once or twice. It can take weeks or months before you start to feel more flexible and reduce tightness or stiffness.

 

  1. Gardening

Gardening is often recommended as a healthy physical activity for those who have joint stiffness. It can help keep your joints flexible by keeping them moving. It's important not to overwork yourself or your muscles, so work slowly and take regular breaks to avoid putting too much stress on your muscles and joints.

Practice hinging at the hips properly when working in the garden to avoid bending or twisting in awkward ways that can aggravate your lower back.

Choose tools that have extendable handles to help you garden while you're standing or sitting on a chair. Look for sturdier tools that do more of the work for you and lighten the load on your joints.

 

  1. Pilates

Pilates is an exercise that focuses on strengthening core muscles in your body. Practicing Pilates can help relieve joint stiffness and soreness by increasing blood flow and emphasizing movements that help with stability.

If you are new to Pilates, begin slowly and seek guidance from a professional instructor. Attending at least one class a week may help to reduce your joint stiffness.

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  1. Water Exercises

Exercising in water reduces pressure on your joints making it easier to move around and reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries and over-extension. There are many different water exercises that can help reduce stiffness and increase mobility:

  • swimming laps
  • water walking
  • flutter kicks
  • leg lifts

 

  1. Yoga

Yoga can be especially helpful to increase flexibility, reduce lower back pain, and increase your balance. Some yoga styles can be intense and vigorous while others are relaxing and meditative. It's important to find a type of yoga that works for you.

There are many videos that you can find online to try yoga in the comfort of your own home. If you've never tried yoga before, start with a beginner's class online or in-person.

 

  1. Cycling

Cycling limits impact stress on joints like your hips, knees, and feet. The movement of cycling itself can help to lubricate the joints, reducing pain and stiffness.

Riding a stationary bike can be a safe way to get the joints moving, if you don't feel comfortable cycling outdoors. However, if you do decide to ride a bike outdoors, it can beneficial for not only your physical health but your mental health as well as you surround yourself with nature.

 

  1. Hand Exercises

If you have Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may have limited use of your hands. You may find it hard to grip things because you're unable to fully bend your fingers or you may experience frequent swelling and pain.

Because of the pain and stiffness, you may start to lose hand strength and flexibility. Fortunately, some simple hand exercises can really help to stop pain and improve joint function.

 

  1. Walking

Regular walking can help to relieve arthritis pain and improve mobility. Walking tones your legs and muscles which, in turn, increases your range of motion. It also strengthens your bones and can help prevent bone loss. The stronger your muscles, the more weight they can handle and the better they can support your joints.

 

 **Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.

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