We don’t often think a lot about our joints—that is, until they start aching or hurting. If you want to delay or prevent such pain, give them a little TLC before they get sore.
If you’re athletic, your joints may be at risk from overuse or extreme movements, but you can considerably reduce your risk of injury by doing gentle joint exercises before you go out to hike, cycle, play golf or tennis, surf, or whatever it is you do to stay active. Think about which joints are most involved in your activity (or maybe where you’ve had an injury before) and then spend a little time—maybe 10 to 15 minutes—doing exercises to loosen and warm up those joints.
As you practice your favorite activity, be aware of how your joints are feeling and, if they start to become painful, make sure you slow down, stop, or maybe do a few gentle stretches to see if you can correct the problem. This is far better than trying to work through the pain and making it worse. It’s never a good idea to ignore pain or take an anti-inflammatory to mask it just so you can keep playing. That’s asking for trouble.
As we age and the body becomes more dry, our joints become susceptible to osteoarthritis and other degenerative diseases. Gently exercising the joints can help deter the onset of these painful conditions. If you are already experiencing frequent joint pain, it’s best to consult your physician about which exercises are safe and beneficial for your particular condition.
I have several easy joint exercises on my DVDs—in my Easy Series and on my Flexibility DVD from the Yoga for Everyone Series. There are also a few on my website: Toe & Ankle Exercises and this week’s Plain Pose with Finger Strengthening Wrist Exercise and Shoulder Elbow Exercise. Of course, all asanas exercise some of our joints since it’s joints that enable us to move, so be sure to stay active by practicing yoga regularly!