Joint Friendly Activities & Training Tips

Joint Friendly Activities & Training Tips

Be it knee pain when taking the stairs, hip pain on long walks, or pain in the elbows or wrists when doing housework or gardening: joint problems manifest in different ways. The automatic response of many affected by joint pain is slowing down and avoiding exercise. This, however, is not the best way to treat your pain. Staying active actually provides relief in many cases.


Why do our joints need movement?

Remaining inactive due to joint pain is not the best approach when it comes to therapy. That’s because movement is essential to our joints, and too little of it will mean that the joints’ cartilage layer is not adequately supplied with synovial fluid – this will cause the cartilage to lose its elasticity and the cartilage layer to become brittle. In the long term, this results in increased friction between the bones and can cause additional pain.

Damaged cartilage cells in the joints do not regenerate, but the progression of cartilage wear, also known as osteoarthritis, can be counteracted. This can be achieved with regular exercise, targeted, controlled and gentle movements not exceeding the appropriate level of strain. In addition to supplying the cartilage with essential nutrients, strengthening the muscles which stabilize the joint is a positive side effect that can help alleviate pain.

Joint pain can have many different causes: In addition to excessive strain and injuries, conditions such as arthritis or osteoarthritis can be responsible for joint problems. Before getting active, you should find out the root cause of your pain with the help of a physician. These experts can also give you advice about which type of activity to start with.

 

Tips for training to protect your joints 

Which sports are suitable for those suffering from joint problems? Avoid high-impact sports such as tennis or football that exert intensive shock loads on your joints. These are also common reasons for injuries. Instead, make sure you do activities with even, rhythmical movements.

What to bear in mind before training

Start your workout with mobility and stretching exercises as well as a moderate warm-up. This increases your body temperature and activates your circulation as well as blood flow, making your muscles supple and helping your joints to move smoothly. This way, you can prepare your body for the subsequent strain and prevent injuries. 

Take regular breaks

In general, you should feel no pain during your workout. If you do feel uncomfortable during exercise, take a break or stop your workout to prevent excessive strain or injury. In particular as a beginner or if you’re returning to exercise, we recommend starting slowly to allow your body to gently adapt to the new activity.

Make use of orthopedic aids

Bauerfeind Train® active braces are made from stretchy, breathable knitted fabric and feature shaped elastic inserts. During exercise, they are comfortable to wear, provide support and massage the joint every time it moves – thus stimulating circulation. Wearing a brace is therefore not only recommended following injuries to return to activity but also as long-term help to stabilize the joint and prevent new injuries. 

How much exercise is recommended?

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults should exercise for 300 minutes per week with moderate intensity, e.g. cycling or swimming, to improve health and physical performance. Per day, this is about 40 minutes. Those training at a high intensity can halve the recommended time to 150 minutes per week.

Ensure variety in your workouts

Protect your joints and muscles from one-sided strain by adding variety to your training regimen and eliminating boredom. The following sports can be carried out to protect your joints.

 

Which sports protect your joints?

1. Aqua Jogging, Aqua Aerobics, etc.

Aqua jogging and aqua aerobics use the water’s natural resistance, pressure, and buoyancy. These guided exercises work on your endurance, strength, and coordination – and all with minimal strain on your joints. You can find all sorts of classes that take place in swimming pools or fitness and spa centers. They usually offer a wide variety: perhaps aqua aerobics, aqua boxing, aqua dancing or aqua Zumba could be of interest to you. 

2. Swimming

Swimming is excellent full-body training, the water supports you so that your body weight does not exert pressure on your joints. This makes swimming perfect for all those who want to counteract their excess weight. Make sure you carry out the movements in a controlled way to prevent excess strain on your cervical spine and knees or ask for help from a coach to improve your technique. You will then benefit from excellent cardiovascular training that burns a lot of calories and strengthens your muscles.

3. Rowing

Whether in the water, on a rowing machine at home, or at the gym – the flowing movements during rowing protect your joints, while still using about 80% of your body’s muscle groups. These include arms, shoulders, back, abdomen, thighs, buttocks, and calves. Strengthening your muscles and cardiovascular system will have a positive effect on the performance of your entire body and on your endurance if you train regularly. Plus, rowing tends to burn more calories than other endurance sports.

4. Cross-Training 

Another piece of fitness equipment for cardio training that is recommended for joint problems is the elliptical or cross-trainer. First and foremost, it’s a gentle alternative to jogging because the knees don’t have to carry the entire body weight during training. Instead of unpleasant shocks, the cross trainer is characterized by its elliptical movements which are carried out in a gentle and controlled way – with the knees always being slightly bent and the arms being used to take some of the load off the legs.

5. Cycling or Ergometer Training

Gentle cycling is also beneficial for the knees and hips – whether bicycle or e-bike, outside in the fresh air, or at home on an ergometer. With its cyclical movements, this type of training does not put pressure or impact on the joints when set to a low gear ratio or low resistance. The body weight also largely rests on a saddle, meaning the knee joints can move freely and without being subjected to strain. When you increase the pedaling speed, you will also not miss out on enjoyment and exertion.

6. Hiking

Equipped with high-quality hiking boots and little baggage, hiking on level ground is also a safe joint activity. In order to make this activity as gentle on your joints as possible, you must ensure smooth movements, with the knee always being slightly bent to cushion as much weight via the thigh muscles as possible. Also make sure you keep a moderate speed and select a route with soft ground, such as in the woods. If you want to tackle some inclines, you should definitely use walking sticks because they significantly reduce strain on the knees and spine – provided they are used correctly.

7. Nordic Walking

Sticks are also used during Nordic walking – to relieve the ankles, knees, and the spine because the bodyweight does not rest on the legs alone. By moving the arms, additional muscle groups, such as the chest and shoulders, are also activated. This increases the energy used and therefore burns more calories than during hiking or going for a walk. In many ways, this makes walking a challenging, effective, and attractive sport. 

8. Bouldering

The basis for therapeutic climbing is climbing without ropes at jumping height – also known as bouldering – which is low-risk for beginners and gentle on the joints. Climbing is a versatile type of full-body training where many muscle groups are used that we often neglect during our daily lives. It also activates body tension, while the high demands on coordination, awareness, and mobility promote a straight posture. Overall, climbing strengthens the core muscles and promotes suppleness. Different locations, such as climbing walls and high ropes courses, ensure variety and new challenges.

9. Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is a winter sport that will protect your joints. It is an effective exercise for almost all muscle groups as it involves rhythmic movements without the high load factors associated with Alpine skiing. The complex skiing movement, where the legs, as well as the upper body, are gently challenged, requires good coordination and boosts your endurance. 

10. Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates

Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates are particularly suitable for those returning to exercise and beginners with joint pain who want to keep active. Based on calm and gentle movements, joints are mobilized and muscles strengthened. Especially in the beginning, these exercises should be carried out with guidance: the instructor can take physical concerns into account and help with the selection of movements if certain joints hurt. Those who are more advanced benefit from a full-body workout which they can also carry out by themselves outside the class.

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