Keeping your joints strong and healthy is a vital part of staying active and injury free! There are many factors that will affect your joint health such as weight, diet, stress and exercise levels. It is important to protect your joints in order to improve their durability throughout the length of your lifetime and avoid problems like arthritis, bursitis and muscle-related injuries. Regular exercise, including range-of-motion, strength and endurance building have all been shown to reduce joint stiffness, keep joints flexible and increase muscle strength. There are many, very simple exercises that can help keep your joints strong so read on as we cover Top 5 Joint Strengthening Exercises!
1. Hips – Single leg bridge
The single leg bridge is a common exercise used to work on glute activation and build basic hip strength and it can indicate asymmetries and imbalances around your hips. Your gluteus maximus, with its powerful hip extension, is the primary mover for this exercise and your hamstrings contribute to both extending your hip and stabilizing your body. Ensure your shoulders remain on the ground throughout the glute bridge exercise and you can extend both arms out to your sides for extra stability.
2. Shoulders – Rotator cuff exercises
Shoulder injuries, arthritis and inflammation in and around the joints are common problems in adults, often causing severe pain, discomfort and immobility. As the shoulder has such a wide range motion the joint is less stable and particularly susceptible to injury. Injury and instability in the rotator cuff is often the root cause of shoulder problems and external rotation of the shoulder is the most popular method for strengthening this area. It’s important to keep good control and stability of the shoulder, so use a light weight or resistance bands.
3. Knees – Bodyweight squats
The glutes, along with the quads and hamstrings, play an important role in allowing the patella (kneecap) to move properly as the knee joint bends. Strengthening and balancing the muscles that surround the knee can take the pressure off the joint and decrease the amount of weight absorbed by the ligaments and cartilage in the knee. A hugely popular exercise for strength training and toning, but also great for strengthening the knee joint!
4. Elbows – Supination and pronation
Injuries to the forearm and elbow are common among athletes, especially in those who perform repetitive arm actions and movements that create significant force across the forearm muscles, tendons and ligaments. The twisting and turning motion of the forearm is referred to as pronation and supination. Activities for forearm supination can benefit all age groups by keeping the area healthy, strong and flexible. There are a number of methods for performing this action including weighted, unweighted or with resistance bands.
5. Ankles – Calf raises
When an athlete performs any lower body movement the ankle and surrounding muscles are put under a great deal of stress. Strengthening your lower leg muscles is essential for reducing ankle injuries but will also help prevent chronic conditions such as shin splints and achilles tendonitis. The calf raise is such a simple exercise to strengthen the ankle joint and muscles that protect it and one that can be performed practically anywhere (take care on stairs or escalators)!
Whatever your sport or hobby might be, strong and healthy joints are essential to keep you performing at your best and prevent you from always sitting and spectating on the sidelines! Joint strengthening exercises are a very important component of maximizing joint health and by extension, getting the most out of your own body and should be performed, ideally alongside your other activities as a ‘lifestyle’. Remember you’re only as strong as your weakest joint! These exercises are very simple, requiring minimal equipment and space, so are a must for incorporating into your exercise or training programme. Got some other joint-strength tips or comments? Let us know below or @KeepFitKingdom !