Flexible joints give us the range of motion that we need to get around in daily life, but that same flexibility can also be a source of weakness and eventual injury. To keep your knees, hips, and shoulders in healthy working order, try one of these exercises to strengthen and stabilize your joints and prevent future pain and injury.
1. One Leg Balance
Joint pain and dysfunction in the knee is extremely common, especially for older adults or individuals who have had a sports injury in the past.
The one leg balance is very straightforward. Standing with your feet just slightly less than shoulder-width apart, shift your weight to one foot without locking the knee joint. Then, lift your opposite leg and hold the position for 30 seconds.
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This balancing exercise will help to strengthen the muscles that keep your knee stable as you walk or bend. For a more difficult variation, try keeping that raised leg straight and lifting it to the side with each inhale, or try the exercise on a balance board instead of on the floor.
2. Rotator Cuff Exercises
Even if you’re not a gym buff or an athlete, doing the following exercises mentioned in the video will help strengthen and stabilize the rotator cuff, which is often the root of shoulder pain and injury.
Make sure that the weight you use is fairly light. Ideally, it should be a weight that would allow you to perform these exercises on a daily basis.
Anything heavier and you simply risk injuring yourself. You can also choose to replace your dumbbells with resistance bands.
To strengthen the sacroiliac joint (a frequent culprit of lower back pain), the American Council for Exercise recommends supermans.
Lie face-down on the ground with your arms stretched straight out in front of you and your legs straight out behind. Using your abdominal muscles and lower back strength, raise your arms and legs an inch or two off the ground, hold the position for ten seconds and release on an exhale.
4. Double Leg Bridge
Strengthen your hips, legs, and abdominals with the double leg bridge.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, about hip width apart, and your arms at your sides.
Focusing on your pelvis, exhale as you lift your hips off the ground, hold for a second, and release back down to the floor. Repeat the exercise fifteen to twenty times for 3 sets.
For another exercise that will strengthen the muscles around your knees with a larger range of motion than the one leg balance, try a bodyweight squat.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead. Lower yourself from the hips and knees, maintaining a straight back until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
Keep that same posture and drive yourself upwards from the balls of your feet. Make sure that your knees stay aligned with your toes throughout the entire exercise in order to prevent injury and get the most out of the movement.
Do you have joint problems? Tell us about your exercise routine below!