By Ali Horsfall
To avoid getting stiff joints, it’s important to keep mobile. But as we continue to stay at home during the lockdown, it can be increasingly hard to think of new ways to move.
Exercise is fundamental to maintaining joint mobility. And for anyone with joint problems such as arthritis, long periods of sitting and inactivity can cause the joints to stiffen up and become more painful.
Thankfully, if you do struggle with stiff joints, there are some simple ways to keep you and your joints moving. The bonus is that you don’t even have to leave your living room.
Here, Marc Holl, professional head of physiotherapy at Nuffield Health, shares six exercises taken from a clinically-devised workout designed to help strengthen joints. These are suitable for exercises all ages, at any fitness level and are a good alternative to Joe Wicks' workouts, if that isn't your bag.
6 exercises to mobilise stiff joints
1. Squats for stiff joints
Squats are a great exercise to incorporate into your routine; not only are they good for strengthening the muscles in your lower body, but they don’t require any equipment. To perform the exercise, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and slightly turned out, with your back flat and chest proud. Push out your bum and bend your knees like you are sitting down into a chair. If this is too difficult, squat down into a chair for added support. If you’d like to make the exercise harder, just hold a weight to your chest as you perform the move.
2. Shoulder blade retractions for stiff joints
This exercise is designed to build upper body strength whilst working your back and arms. With your arms out in front of you, squeeze your shoulder blades together, being careful not to shrug. Relax, and repeat this move again.
3. Leg extensions for stiff joints
Sitting on a chair, and holding the sides of your seat, slowly raise your leg as far as your knee will allow and then slowly lower back down. If you have access to a resistance band this can be incorporated into the exercise. Tie the band to the base of the seat or bench and tie the other end to your ankle, making sure that there is tension between the band and your leg. As before, holding the base of the seat, slowly raise your leg as far as the knee will allow, and lower back down.
4. Shoulder abductions for stiff joints
Stand with your back against a wall and slowly raise your arms by your side until they join above your head. Slowly lower them down using the same motion and repeat the exercise. If you have access to a resistance band, you can then try a shoulder press. Start in a seated position with your resistance band wrapped under you. Grab one side of the band in each hand, and bring your hands either side of your chest, keeping your chest proud and back straight. Raise your hands above the crown of your head and try to get hands to touch, keeping this motion slow and smooth.
5. Step ups for stiff joints
This can be performed using any step or flight of stairs at home. Making sure that your step is near something to hold on to. Take one step onto the platform and raise the other leg to a 90 degree angle. Lower your leg back down, and repeat with the other leg. Alternatively, you can try toe taps instead of step ups for a variation on this exercise.
6. Stability challenge for stiff joints
This exercise is designed to work your core, as well as improving stability. In order to perform it you can use an uneven surface in your home. Try balancing on one leg, and try to keep your balance for as long as possible. The goal here is to stay still, so find a static object ahead of you to focus on, if you're struggling.
Senior Health Writer Ali Horsfall has almost 15 years experience as a journalist and has written for national print titles and women’s lifestyle brands including woman&home, Woman, Woman's Own, BBC magazines, Mothercare, Grazia and The Independent. She currently specialises in health and fitness content and loves sharing the best expert advice on staying well.
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