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Do These 6 Stretches Every Day For Healthy Joints

3 min read

senior woman stretching with trainer

The key to preventing joint pain and the development of arthritis lies in prevention. Lifestyle factors, such as diet and activity level, can play a big role in maintaining the health of your joints. 

Three of the things you can do to support healthy joints are:

  1. Eat a healthy, varied diet with a focus on anti-inflammatory foods.
  2. Choose a joint supplement formulated with anti-inflammatory ingredients.
  3. Regularly engage in physical activity, including stretching.

If you’re already experiencing joint pain and stiffness, the last thing you may feel like doing is increasing your activity level because, well, it hurts! But, lack of physical activity can actually contribute to aching joints. 

 

Stretching is an often overlooked aspect of exercise and joint health, but the benefits are invaluable!

 

Exercise helps keep the tissues that surround and connect to your joints (i.e., your muscles and tendons) strong and flexible. The more flexible your muscles are, the less tension they exert on your joints, and the easier your joints can move.

The best way to keep your muscles and joints flexible is to stretch regularly. Stretching is an often overlooked aspect of exercise and joint health, but the benefits are invaluable!

Benefits of Stretching

Stretching can be done both before and after exercise to help your body warm up and cool down. Stretching first thing in the morning when you get out of bed can also help decrease joint stiffness and prepare your body for the day ahead.

Here are some of the benefits you can achieve with regular stretching exercises:

  • Greater flexibility of muscles and joints
  • Enhanced range of motion
  • Decreased risk of activity induced injury
  • Enhanced athletic performance
  • Improved posture
  • Reduced muscle tension

  • Most stretches can be classified as either dynamic or static.

    Dynamic Stretches

    Dynamic stretches are movement-based, versus stretching a muscle to the point of tension and then holding it. They are usually performed before exercise to warm up muscles and increase joint range of motion.

    Following are three examples of dynamic stretches that can help support your joints:

    1.  March in place – supports knees, hips, shoulders, elbows. Stand with feet hip width apart. Raise right knee and swing left arm in an upward position. Lower and repeat with opposite knee and arm. Continue marching in place for a total of 30 seconds to 1 minute.
    1.   Arm circles – supports shoulders. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, raise arms until level with shoulders. Gently move arms in a circular motion, 10 times in each direction.
    1.  Leg circles – supports hips. Find your balance on one leg. Use a chair, counter or wall for support if needed. Gently move leg in circular motion, 10 times in each direction. Switch legs and repeat. 

    Static stretches focus on increasing flexibility by stretching a muscle until tension is felt and then holding that position for about 30 seconds. Static stretches are best done after the muscles are warm to reduce the risk of injury.

    Static Stretches

    Here are three examples of static stretches that can help support your joints:

    1.  Forward fold – supports legs, lower back. Standing with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent, bend forward at the hips, while keeping your back straight, until you feel tension in the back of the legs. Hands can rest against your thighs or on the floor, depending on flexibility level. Breathe deeply while you hold for 30 seconds. 
    2. Door stretch – supports chest, shoulders. Stand within a door frame. Position palms and forearms against door frame and lean forward until you feel a stretch across your chest and front of shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds.
    3. Pretzel Stretch – supports hips, glutes, low back. Lay on the floor and bend knees with feet flat on the floor. Place your right ankle on your left knee. Place your hands behind your left knee and gently pull into your chest until you feel a stretch in your right glute. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. 

    Before you stretch, remember to only move within your comfort zone. Stretching shouldn’t be painful. If you feel pain or have an existing injury, stop and consult with a doctor or physical therapist. Healthcare professionals can recommend customized exercises to support your joint health and overall well-being.