No matter what type of training or sport you take on, it’s likely that you’ll have to think about your joints at some point. Even if you’re doing low-impact activities like yoga, cycling or swimming, repetitive movement coupled with less-than-ideal nutrition can cause significant problems later in joints like knees, wrists, and shoulders.
“Once you have an issue with your joints, it takes a while to rehab back to health, because you have to change your movement patterns and build up the muscles around the affected joint,” says Brad Leavelle, a Minneapolis-based physical therapist.
He notes that it’s much better to focus on prevention, if possible. Or, if you already have minor issues, to make recovery a priority so they don’t become major problems. Here are some strategies that can help:
Anyone who’s had surgery on a joint knows the drill: Before you go under the knife, you’re usually tasked with doing pre-surgical physical therapy to build up the muscles that surround and support the joint.
But you don’t have to wait until the joint is at that point to make muscle development a priority, Leavelle says. For example, to reduce the chance of knee strain, focus on exercises that strengthen your quadriceps and hamstrings.
Those might be calf raises, step-ups, wall squats and hamstring curls. He suggests starting with bodyweight exercises before moving on to weights or machines. Strong quads, in particular, help stabilize your knee so it will be less affected by impact — like you’d find in running — or by twisting.
Sometimes, stretching is a more appropriate tactic, especially for joints like the wrists. Range-of-motion exercises done slowly and deliberately can lengthen tendons and muscles, creating a more supportive framework for joints.
USE YOUR PLATE TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION
Working your muscles to the point of fatigue helps to make them stronger, but it may also temporarily increase inflammation as your body rushes toward recovery. If your joints are weakened in any way, that amount of inflammation can be higher, because the body is trying to heal them.
Although some degree of inflammation is healthy, too much can become a problem.
Fortunately, there are numerous foods that can lower inflammation levels throughout your system, providing benefits not just for your joints, but also your thyroid, immune system and digestion. Choices like nuts, tart cherries, dark leafy greens, like kale, and fatty fish such as salmon. Also try turmeric and ginger, two spices that are particularly high in anti-inflammatory compounds.
BE MINDFUL — EVEN IN YOGA
Although yoga is often used as a way to regain mobility and flexibility after injuries, the practice can also lead to joint problems if a yoga student is trying to do too much, too quickly, according to Dr. Dennis Cardone.
“Yoga can bring knee and wrist injuries, in particular, based on certain poses,” he says. For example, some students push themselves forward while in a plank position, which can tweak the wrists. Another pose, called a hero, calls for the student to sit with legs bent to either side and then lower back onto the floor.
He adds that any sport can have questionable moves that put joints at risk. To minimize them, he suggests paying very close attention to how you’re moving to make sure you’re using your muscles, not your joints. Also, if there’s even a moment of pinching, strain, pain or numbness in joints, back off immediately.
“Feeling challenged during a workout is good,” he says. “But feeling pain, especially in your joints, could set you up for problems. If you keep ignoring that pain, you could be creating a chronic issue.”
Staff is friendly and helpful, and I’m feeling much better after my weekly adjustments. Dr. Sabatino is wonderful!
Amazing, personal treatment plans. I ve experienced pain relief after just a couple weeks! Highly recommend Backfit Health & Spine.
Amazing staff. Friendly and genuinely care about your health. Dr. Gabby is the best and in no time she ll have you feeling better.
I love to come to BackFit! The workers are super nice!
I’m so thankful for Backfit Gilbert they helped recover from a bad car accident, now I’m finally back to where I was before, the team is awe...read moreI’m so thankful for Backfit Gilbert they helped recover from a bad car accident, now I’m finally back to where I was before, the team is awesome front the front desk to the doctors and Brittany is amazing I’m going to miss this place ! I highly recommend it !read less
Been going to this place for years. I just love it
A great place for healing. I have been going here for awhile. There is very little wait time and I have been feeling better and off my meds ...read moreA great place for healing. I have been going here for awhile. There is very little wait time and I have been feeling better and off my meds pretty much. It is important to take care of your body and a great support system here.read less
I got in a car accident not even a month ago and started out with about 4 visits a week and now im down to one a week. I love going there ot...read moreI got in a car accident not even a month ago and started out with about 4 visits a week and now im down to one a week. I love going there ots so much fun I love all of the doctors and front office people its amazing!read less
Backlit is wonderful ! My husband and I both have benefited greatly from coming here!!! Feel better less pain lower pressure!!! If you’re ha...read moreBacklit is wonderful ! My husband and I both have benefited greatly from coming here!!! Feel better less pain lower pressure!!! If you’re having pain this is the place to come!! Awesome people!!!!read less
I’ve been suffering from back pain for years and finally it got to where I needed to address it. I was very skeptical but after 5 weeks I’m ...read moreI’ve been suffering from back pain for years and finally it got to where I needed to address it. I was very skeptical but after 5 weeks I’m seeing great improvement.read less
Backfit has been so amazing and has helped tremendously with my back and neck pain! Thank you Backfit Phoenix!🙌🏻
Back fit is fantastic! I have scoliosis and have had lower back and neck issues for years! Dr. Mick and his crew are friendly and efficient ...read moreBack fit is fantastic! I have scoliosis and have had lower back and neck issues for years! Dr. Mick and his crew are friendly and efficient and through their treatment, I’m now able to hike 3 miles a day and feel great!! I highly recommend back fit!!read less
Professional and personable , no waiting . They have a great team ready to help you get "back" in shape .
Great office! Really helped my neck pain.
I love it! After only few session I could felt the difference, and the ladies there are awesome and fun to work with
Great staff!! Liz and dr mick are absolutely great they have changed my life dramatically already in just two going on three months ! I can ...read moreGreat staff!! Liz and dr mick are absolutely great they have changed my life dramatically already in just two going on three months ! I can walk again without to pain 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻read less
Great staff! We are always greeted with a smile. This is a great bunch of people that are always happy to help you!
BackFit in Queen Creek has been great! I have multiple issues. They always ask how I’m feeling and really listen. They are very friendly and...read moreBackFit in Queen Creek has been great! I have multiple issues. They always ask how I’m feeling and really listen. They are very friendly and keep it lighthearted and treat me with genuine card and concern.read less