Strengthening Muscles for Joint Health
When considering joint support, most people immediately think of supplements or some kind of physical support like braces. While these methods are effective, there is an answer that doesn’t usually come to mind, support that’s already built into your body – your muscles.
How do muscles help my joints?
Strong muscles are one of the best ways to protect a joint. Muscles help carry the weight and stress of your movements. Your muscles control how you move. The stronger they are, the more support your joints have. Strong muscles also help ensure that your bones stay properly aligned. With weaker muscles, joints have less stability and therefore it’s much easier for them to rub, twist, or become misaligned. These processes can cause unnecessary wear and tear.
When you increase the strength of the muscles around a joint, it becomes more stable and protected. For example, if the muscles that surround your knee are strong, you have better control and stability in your legs. This means that you will be better able to support your body weight.
Where do I start?
Your body is made up of an “endless” number of joints, most of which can benefit from having stronger surrounding muscles for support, so the first step is to get moving! Dedicate yourself to at least a half hour a day where you stretch, move, and tone your body.
If you’re not someone who is used to a lot of physical activity, start slow. Stretch your joints a bit, then walk around the yard or block. The weight of your body alone is enough to start strengthening muscles and joints. Focus at first on good posture and a strong core. This will help the joints in your spine and create a strong base for you to work from.
If you want a great way to work all of your body without the stress that walking or running puts on it, try swimming instead. This aerobic exercise is low impact and therefore less likely to cause excessive wear and tear that is often associated with running.
When you’re ready, move up to strength and weight training. Work on each major muscle group, focusing on the ones that you have the most trouble with. Use resistance bands or light hand-held weights to gradually improve your muscle tone and strength.
Just remember not to push yourself too hard! If an exercise feels off or starts to hurt, back off. Gradual increases are better than damaging your body in an effort to do too much too soon!