From starting off in bursts to getting more and more persistent, joint pain can creep in at any time and slowly take over your life and daily activities like gripping a cup or tying shoelaces. Prolonged joint pain, swelling and stiffness can limit your limb strength and flexibility and during this time, exercise can prove to be a difficult task. Yet, lack of exercise can end up making your joints more stiff thus leading to loss of strength and mobility. Therefore, to overcome this vicious cycle, it is important to involve range of motion exercises in your daily routine. They are the perfect, low-impact way to exercise without stressing your joints and still maintaining your flexibility.
Since continuous joint pain could be a symptom of osteoarthritis, it is important to perform these range of motion exercises every day. There are 2 types of range of motion exercises – Passive and Active. Passive range of motion exercises are done with the help of an external force like with the help of a physiotherapist who helps move the joint to its maximum capacity. Active range of motion are those done by the patient themselves.
Each exercise can be performed 3 to 10 times daily, but make sure to do these until you feel a slight stretch and not pain. Some range of motion exercises you can perform daily are –
Ankle Circles – Pain, cracking, popping sounds and stiffness in the ankle joints could be a symptom of ankle osteoarthritis that may have been caused by joint deterioration due to advancing age, overwork or being overweight. This may cause swelling, instability and reduced mobility of the foot. To help alleviate these symptoms, ankle circles are a good exercise that help release the stress and tension from your joints and improve ankle strength and flexibility to you balance better.
Heel Slides – Knee pain, swelling and stiffness can disrupt full range of motion of the leg affecting the ability to walk or bend the knee. Therefore, one good range of motion exercise to curb the advancement of pain and retain mobility is heel slides. It helps strengthen and stimulate the leg muscles, improve circulation and help you achieve the full extent of motion of your leg.
Pendulum Swings – Sitting slouched over the computer or lifting heavy loads can cause shoulder pain and stiffness thus weakening the shoulders and making movement uncomfortable. One great way to reduce this discomfort is by doing pendulum swings – a passive range of motion exercise that is guided by gravity and the momentum of your arm. This helps to increase blood circulation, strengthen the shoulder muscles and bring about better gliding at the shoulder joint.
Cross Arm Stretch – Shoulder stiffness is a common phenomena experienced by young and old alike. Whether it is tech neck due to working on your computer all day or shoulder stiffness due to increasing age or change in the seasons, tightness in the shoulders not only causes discomfort but makes easy tasks like lifting things quite difficult. Ignoring this pain can also lead to persistent pain in the future. Hence, a simple way to relieve this tension and increase flexibility is a cross arm stretch. It works the posterior deltoid muscles which enable you to rotate your shoulders and assist in performing daily functions like picking up grocery bags.
Calf Stretch – A good way to increase the range of motion of your knees and calves while walking is a low-impact exercise called a calf stretch. It is best done before a workout to increase blood flow and activate the leg muscles. Post-workout, calf stretches are a great way to release muscle soreness and tightness. Doing calf stretches regularly also improves your gait and helps you maintain balance to prevent the risk of injury.
Whether you’re a student, athlete, homemaker or a working professional, the hectic pace of life and keeping up to everyday tasks can put a lot of pressure on your joints. Performing these exercises daily will help lower the risk of injuries and prime your muscles to take on the pressures of these daily tasks you have to perform.
However, before you start these exercises, it is important to gauge the level of pain you feel. If the pain before you begin is intense or if you are recovering from joint surgery, do consult your doctor before you start to get the best pain patches. Also, anytime during or after performing these range of motion, flexibility exercises you feel your pain increase, do consult your physician. Once you gauge your pain levels, you can also modify these exercises as per your requirements. To gain better, long-lasting relief from different types of joint pain, massaging your joints with an Ayurvedic oil like Zandu Ortho Vedic Oil.