According to the Center for Disease Control, about 54 million Americans suffer from arthritis. The condition causes inflammation in the joints which can lead to pain and stiffness. For some people, the pain from arthritis is constant. Others experience flare-ups on occasion, while others tend to get better or worse depending on external factors, like the weather. Unfortunately, arthritis often gets worse as you age.
But it’s not the only cause for joint pain, so it’s no wonder why so many people are constantly looking to find relief. One way to do that is to focus on general joint health and strengthening your body. Exercise is no longer just about looking fit or conforming to certain physical standards.
For those with joint pain, it’s about becoming stronger and fighting off chronic pain. Weight loss can still be an important aspect of working out. The heavier you are, the more strain you put on your joints. When you lose weight, you can automatically start to get rid of some of that pain.
What else can you do to strengthen your body and fight back against joint pain safely? It starts with knowing what might be behind your pain. If there is an underlying medical condition, finding the best treatment should be your first step. Once you have a clearer picture of what’s causing your joint pain, you can develop an exercise plan that works for you and helps you to feel stronger.
What Causes Joint Pain?
Though arthritis is often the first thing people associate with joint pain, there are plenty of other potential causes. Some are more manageable than others. In fact, overexerting yourself with exercise can contribute to joint pain. Heavy physical activity can cause pressure to build up in the joints, so it can cause pain with every step. Alternatively, living a sedentary lifestyle can cause joint issues, too. It’s all about finding a healthy balance to keep your body strong and your joints well-protected.
But there are certain diseases and health conditions that can contribute to joint pain, too:
If you’re experiencing joint pain along with other unusual symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, anxiety or depression, or constipation, you might want to talk to your doctor about testing your thyroid. Hypothyroidism can cause all of those issues, and medication is often needed to find any kind of relief.
In fact, medication is often needed for many of these possible underlying conditions. They all have different symptoms associated with them, too. If joint pain isn’t necessarily your main problem, but it feels like just one of many symptoms, there’s a good chance something more serious could be going on within your body, and it’s important to get diagnosed as soon as possible.
Temporary Solutions for Relief
Your main goal in getting rid of joint pain should be to focus on a long-term solution. If your pain is caused by an underlying illness, seeking out treatment for that condition is the best thing you can do to manage your symptoms. But sometimes the pain can be so bad that it’s necessary to find temporary relief just to get through the day.
The good news? You don’t have to live in constant pain. There are several safe and effective ways to manage joint pain at home on the days where it feels unbearable. Try a few of the following to ease your pain:
- Apply heating pads to your aching joints
- Take a hot bath or shower
- Massage the joints
- Use turmeric or other anti-inflammatory ingredients in your cooking
- Icing your joints
- Taking over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen
- Utilizing the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD oil
You can continue to do these things frequently throughout your journey to strengthen your body. It takes time to become stronger, build muscle, and focus on your joint health. In the meantime, you can find some temporary relief with these solutions, so you can continue on your exercise journey with less pain and discomfort.
Strengthening Your Body and Improving Joint Health Over Time
So how can strengthening your body actually improve your joint health? When you exercise correctly, and regularly, you’ll lose weight, build muscle, and strengthen the ligaments and tendons that surround the joints. In turn, those things actually end up protecting your joints from pressure, so they’re less likely to hurt.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, there is also a waste removal process and a replenishing process that occurs when you exercise. A process called autophagy removes damaged cells within the joints. Then, because exercise increases blood flow and circulation, your joints receive more oxygen and nutrients to help repair them and keep them strong.
Some of the best exercises for joint health are:
- Stretching/range-of-motion exercises
- Strength training
To protect your joints while exercising, it’s important not to overdo it. Go at a slower pace, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while. Keep the impact low, and ice your joints afterward to prevent swelling.
Exercises to Avoid When You Have Joint Pain
While working out can help to strengthen your body and improve your joint health, there are certain exercises that can actually be detrimental to your joints and cause even more pain.
Vigorous exercises will be the hardest on the joints, and they can even be dangerous and lead to permanent pain. Avoid things like jumping rope or running on hard surfaces. Sports like tennis, soccer, or basketball can also be extremely hard on your joints.
Think about more fluid exercises when you’re working out for joint health. In doing so, not only will your body get stronger, but you can start building up your endurance and improving your joint health, so you can work your way up to more vigorous exercises. If you have fitness or strength goals in mind, don’t be afraid to start from scratch. It takes time, patience, and a lot of effort, but strengthening your body is one of the best ways to find relief for your joints.