Exercises To Strengthen Joints
Exercises to strengthen your joints
Strong bones don’t just prevent breaks and fractures; strong joints also help prevent joint injuries and decrease joint pain.
Joint pain may be caused by a direct injury to a joint or by arthritis. While exercise is important for everyone, it’s particularly important for anyone who has arthritis.
Exercises to strengthen the body’s joints work by building the muscles around the joints for greater joint stability. Joint strengthening exercises also keep tendons and ligaments flexible, reducing the risk of a strain or sprain and keeping a joint’s range of motion at its best.1
Examples of simple exercises that can be done to help strengthen your joints include aerobic exercise such as:
Swimming.1,2 Swimming is a great aerobic exercise that also strengthens muscles and joints without risk of joint wear and tear, as with running.
Cycling.1,2 Riding a bike is another excellent low-impact exercise to strengthen joints and improve overall fitness.
Range-of-motion exercises.1,2 These exercises involve moving the joints through their full range-of-motion, such as pulling your knees to your chest or raising your arms over your head. Range-of-motion exercises help to reduce stiffness and increase flexibility.
Strength training.1,2 Strength-building exercises, such as weight training, build the muscles around joints for greater strength and support.
Stretching/Flexibility.3 Stretching helps to increase joint flexibility, maintain a broad range of motion, relieve muscle tension and strengthen joints.
Ask your healthcare provider to recommend an appropriate routine for you.
Sufferers may also benefit from exercises that target and strengthen specific joints. Knee injuries and knee pain, for example, are common. Exercises that strengthen the muscles and support the knees can help prevent knee injuries and pain.
Try strengthening exercises that work the quadriceps muscle – the big muscle on the front of the thigh.4 Strength exercises that target the muscles of the hips and the calf muscles can also help prevent hip and ankle injuries.
In contrast, anyone with joint pain should use caution when participating in exercises that are high impact, and may therefore worsen joint pain and inflammation. These exercises include:5
- Fast walking, jogging and running
- Jumping rope
- Sports that involve a lot of running or pounding, like tennis and basketball
- Aerobic dancing
In general, always use caution when exercising, and stop if you have pain. In addition, if you are experiencing joint pain, ask your doctor or physical therapist which exercises are the most appropriate.
- Exercising with arthritis: Improve your joint pain and stiffness. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/arthritis/AR00009
- Arthritis Care UK. Arthritis and Exercise Booklet. October 2009.
- National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions. Osteoarthritis: national clinical guideline for care and management in adults. London: Royal College of Physicians, 2008. Available at: http://www.nice.org.uk/CG059fullguideline.
- Zhang W, et al. OARSI recommendations for the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis, Part II: OARSI evidence-based, expert consensus guidelines. Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 2008; 16: 137−162. Available at:
- Arthritis Do’s and Don’ts. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/arthritis/AR00029