Three exercises to strengthen your joints

“Joint health is important because it reduces bodily pain; allows our joints to last longer, reducing the need for a joint replacement or at least prolonging it; and helps us do our daily activities in a much more effective manner,” says Paige Jones, ACSM CES, an exercise physiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center.

Common causes of joint injuries

Joint injury can be caused by a number of things, including:

  • Running too fast
  • Lifting weights that are too heavy
  • Not stretching after a workout
  • Not warming up or cooling down
  • Overexerting yourself in a class

How to protect your joints from injuries

To keep your joints healthy and strong:

  • Wear supportive shoes
  • Exercise the muscles around the joints to keep them strong
  • Warm up prior to exercise and cool down afterward
  • Increase your exercise intensity gradually

The best exercises to protect your joints

Jones recommends the following three exercises to strength the muscles around your joints.

Bodyweight squat

Protects: Knees, ankles and hips

  • Stand in front of a chair or bench with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower yourself to the seat of the chair or bench, touch lightly and return to stand.
  • Tip: Keep your knees in line with your feet and never let them extend past your toes or you’ll risk injury.

Assisted or unassisted pullup

Protects: Shoulders and elbows

  • For the assisted pullup, stand on the platform of a pullup machine and grab the machine’s handles securely. For an unassisted pullup, start at the bottom of a pull-up position.
  • Begin with your arms fully extended, adjust the weight on the machine as needed and pull all the way up until you shorten your joint angle.
  • Tip: Remember to breathe normally as you perform the move.

Pushup

Protects: Shoulders and elbows

  • Start at the top of a pushup position with your hands shoulder-width apart, keeping your body in a straight line.
  • Lower your chest toward the floor, then extend your arms and push back to the starting position.
  • To modify the position, do a pushup on your knees or while standing, using a bar or wall.
  • Tip: Be careful not to sag your back while doing a pushup.

“Remember, by taking the time to strengthen your muscles, you can keep your joints healthy and strong for years to come,” says Jones.

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