Build supportive muscles to help keep hips and knees healthy
Think joint pain affects only senior adults? Actually, about 32 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have experienced joint pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is taking steps to protect your joints can help prevent injury and pain in the future. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your joints in good shape.
What Is a Joint?
A joint is any place where two bones come together, and different types of joints allow your body to move in a range of ways. Your knees are an example of hinge joints, which open and close to move your legs forward and backward. Your hips are an example of ball-and-socket joints, which allow for a greater range of movement, like a circle. Cartilage, a tough yet flexible tissue, covers and protects the end of your bones. Muscles are attached to bones and can provide support for your joints.
What Causes Joint Pain?
Everyday activities, such as standing, walking, and lifting, can create normal wear and tear on your joints. “Knee pain is the most common complaint,” says Leah Sarago, a fitness expert and founder of Ballet Body. Many people also experience hip pain from sitting all day. Joint pain can also be caused by injury, such as from playing sports, or a health condition, such as osteoarthritis. Call your doctor if you have severe, unexplained joint pain; joint pain that lasts longer than three days; or joint pain and other symptoms such as joint swelling or stiffness, fever or numbness.
Moves for Your Muscles
One of the easiest ways to protect your joints from normal wear and tear is to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Healthier muscles can relieve pressure on your joints by distributing your weight evenly during movement. To help your hips and knees, do these two beginner-friendly moves two to three times a week. Start with a fewer number of repetitions, and add on more over time. As always, check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
- Hip Tuck
Stand with feet hip-width apart and toes turned out at 45-degree angles. Place hands gently on hips. Keeping your back and neck straight, shift your weight back onto heels. Bend knees, and lower hips until thighs are parallel with the ground or as far as comfortable. Make sure the ankles and knees are pointed in the same directions. Draw the belly in, and tuck hips forward and under to make a “C” shape with your body. Relax after five seconds. Repeat 10 to 20 times. To make it easier, rest your hands on a sturdy chair or wall for support.
- Pulsing Lunge
Stand with your right foot forward and your left foot 3 to 4 feet behind the right foot. Make sure both feet are pointed forward. Place hands gently on hips. Bend right knee, and lower hips until right thigh is parallel with floor. Shift right knee forward and backward gently over right ankle 8 to 16 times. Switch and repeat with left leg in front. To make it easier, rest your hands on a sturdy chair or wall for support.
Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.