Friday, June 15, 2012

Suffer From Hip or Knee Pain?

Hip and knee pain can be the tipping point in many peoples’ decisions about whether or not to continue an exercise regimen. These joints take a pounding day in, day out, week after week, year after year. Often, joint pain is ignored until damage has escalated into serious injury. A good rule of thumb: if it hurts when you do THIS, don’t continue to do THIS (whatever THIS is).

Sometimes, the best course of treatment may be to avoid repetitive stress to those areas of your body to allow time for recovery. This does not mean completely halting any type of physical exercise, but it does mean changing your routine. Too often, we tend to think of these sorts of things as “all or nothing” – either I can exercise like a workout fiend, or I can flop on the couch with a sack of chips and pint of ice cream. It doesn’t have to be this way.

When pain has you sidelined from your regular routine, ask yourself if perhaps the routine might not be working for you anymore. It could be that your favorite sport should no longer be your only sport, and after a break for recovery, you may find that dividing your exercise time among several different activities helps to work other parts of your body that may have been neglected, while easing up on those that have been overworked.

Consider alternating running with yoga, racquet sports or aerobics with weight-training, weight-lifting with stretching and some cardio. Regardless of what your primary sport is, this season is a great time to incorporate water-based workouts into your schedule. Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat recommends exercising in the pool because water supports your weight, reducing stress on your joints. Range of motion and endurance is also improved without strenuous effort or joint pain. Even something seemingly simple like walking through waist-deep water can provide tremendous results with low risk of injury for even the most sedentary people.

Other exercises recommended by Healthbeat for sufferers of knee and hip pain include floor exercises (abdominal curls, crunches, push-ups or leg lifts), lifting hand weights (even small ones, lifted in different directions), leg lifts while sitting on an exercise ball (a terrific core strengthener), and gentle yoga.

There is no reason for anyone to not be doing some type of physical exercise most days of the week. Your current body is the only model you’ve got – there is no turning it in for a newer one in a few years – so you owe it to yourself to be a good steward of the one you’ve been given. Get away from that computer screen and do something active!

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