Strengthen Your Joints and Muscles with These 5 Exercises
Made of muscles, joints, soft tissues, and nerves, your musculoskeletal system is designed to work with amazing precision and coordination. Even so, your body does need some help keeping everything functioning like a well-oiled machine. This is where regular exercise comes into play. If you focus on the right exercises, your muscles and joints are more likely to remain strong and healthy enough to support your daily movements.
1. Single-Leg Balances
If you’re active with sports, you know the importance of keeping the muscles that support your knees as strong as possible to minimize injury risk. The purpose of single-leg balances is to improve knee stability while you stand, run, walk, or bend. To do a leg balance, lift one foot and bend your lower leg backwards without locking your knee joint. Hold for 30 seconds then do the other leg. You can use a chair for added support.
2. Side Leg Lifts
Legs lifts are meant to work your lower abdominal muscles and the abductors around your hips and outer thighs that provide indirect support to your lower spine. Lay on your side and lift your leg slowly with your hand on your hip for support. Keep your pelvis aligned correctly with your spine. Aim for up to 30 reps per side.
3. Rotator Cuff Exercises
Reduce your odds of being sidelined with a rotator cuff injury by safely working the four main muscles that stabilize your shoulder. There are many simple rotator cuff exercises that can help you achieve this goal. With a doorway stretch, for instance, you simply stand in front of an open doorway, grip both sides of the frame, and lean forward into a light stretch. For something more challenging, try lawnmower pulls with a resistance band around your foot as you stand up.
An often-overlooked source of lower back pain is issues with the sacroiliac (SI) joint that links your pelvis to the bottom portion of your spine. An effective way to strengthen this joint is with exercises referred to as “supermans.” Lie on your stomach on a flat, firm surface, stretch your arms out above your head, and keep your legs straight together. You’ll then lift your arms and legs slightly off the ground a few inches as if you’re flying. Hold the position for about 10 seconds.
Not all forms of exercise that are good for your joints and muscles have to involve weights or the need to assume certain positions. Walking is something just about anyone can easily fit into their schedule. You can also make it as simple or challenging as you prefer. For example, you can add ankle weights or use hand weights while walking at a brisk pace.
If you have existing spine or joint pain, you can still benefit from regular exercise. Therapeutic water-based exercises can work the same core muscles as land-based exercises without the added stress on joints. There are also modifications to exercises that can be equally effective. An orthopedic specialist can offer additional suggestions more specific to your needs.