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Why the worst thing to do with aching joints is to put your feet up

Try to build up to 20 to 30 minutes for a workout, three times a week or more. If you finish the entire set of exercises quickly, repeat the circuit. Take rests as needed. ‘Do what feels right for you,’ adds Andrew Emms. ‘You might want to start off doing it twice a week, or you might feel that you can manage a session every day. Just listen to your body.’

Those who take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen might want to try a dose before starting. However, many people find they don’t need to after a few weeks. And remember that general aching after exercise isn’t bad – it’s a sign that your muscles have been working. However, if your joints hurt a lot more after a specific exercise, don’t push it as hard, or leave out the exercise entirely.

If you have a condition such as a heart problem, or have undergone surgery recently, speak to your GP first.

Start with a neck flexer

This exercise helps to maintain flexibility

‘This exercise mobilises the neck in a number of directions to maintain flexibility,’ explains Dean.

How to do it: Sit or stand up straight with your shoulders back and relaxed. 

Facing forward, tip your left ear towards your left shoulder as far as is comfortable. 

Hold for one second. Now do the same movement on your right side. 

Repeat this ten times on each side. Now, returning to a facing-forward position, turn your head to the right to look over your shoulder. 

Hold for one second and release. Now turn to left to look over your left shoulder. Repeat ten times on each side.

Row to a better back 

‘This mobilises and strengthens the entire arm as well as the lower and upper back,’ says Andrew.

This exercise should be slow and gliding rather than fast and jerky

This exercise should be slow and gliding rather than fast and jerky

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend the knees slightly and then lean forwards from the hips. It’s not important how deep you bend. 

Place your arms outstretched in front of you, then pull your arms back in a rowing action, squeezing your shoulder blades together for a few seconds. 

If you feel strong enough, use some light dumbbells or a couple of small bottles of water to make the exercise more challenging. 

Repeat this motion for one minute, making the movements slow and gliding rather than fast and jerky.

Settle into a squat 

A squat can help boost muscle strength around the hips and legs

A squat can help boost muscle strength around the hips and legs

‘Squats boost muscle strength around the hips and along the length of your legs which will help support the knees too,’ says Andrew.

How to do it: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your palms together. 

Keeping your weight in your heels, gently bend your knees and squat, keeping the back straight, as far as feels comfortable. It’s a bit like sitting in a chair. 

This can be just a few inches or so low that your bottom almost touches the floor. The deeper you go, the more challenging the exercise. 

When comfortable, hold for five seconds, then return to a standing position. 

Repeat the sequence for a minute at your own pace, with breaks if needed.

Give your spine a twist 

‘This works the whole body and requires co-ordination. It’s a great general body stretch but it’s particularly good for the spine and hips,’ explains Andrew.

This exercise works the whole body and requires co-ordination and provides a great work out for the spine and hips

This exercise works the whole body and requires co-ordination and provides a great work out for the spine and hips

How to do it: Lie on your back – on the floor – with your left leg straight, right leg bent at the knee, foot flat on the floor. 

Your arms should be flat to the floor, crucifix-style, for stability. Rotate at the waist, aiming to touch your left knee on the floor to your right. 

Your left hip will be pointing to the ceiling. You can use your arm to pull the knee down, until you feel a general stretch. 

Don’t force it though. Rotate your neck to look over the left shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and then release. 

Do this five times on each side.

Build a bridge to better hips

‘This exercise strengthen the hips, lower back and legs, while stabilising the ankles,’ says Andrew.

This is a great exercise for strengthening the hips, lower back and legs

This is a great exercise for strengthening the hips, lower back and legs

How to do it: Lie on your back on the floor or on a bed. 

Keeping your feet planted on the ground, draw your knees upwards so that your feet are planted on the floor close to your bottom. 

Now squeeze your buttocks together and lift your bottom as far as you can. 

Hold this position for five to ten seconds, and then gently release. 

Repeat this sequence for one minute.

Get ready to raise your heels

‘A good general lower-limb exercise that boosts strength and mobility in your toes, feet and ankles,’ explains Dean.

Strengthen your toes, feet and ankles with this simple lower-limb exercise

Strengthen your toes, feet and ankles with this simple lower-limb exercise

How to do it: Stand on a step with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Slowly rise up on to your toes and hold the position for a second. 

Now gently come down. Continue to do this until your ankles and feet start to feel tired and achy. 

If you are unsteady on your feet, hold on to a bannister for support.

 Try a downward dog push-up

‘This yoga-inspired exercise improves overall flexibility and balance, and builds strength in the ankle and wrist,’ explains Andrew.

This is a great way of improving overall flexibility and balance while increasing strength in both your ankles and wrists

This is a great way of improving overall flexibility and balance while increasing strength in both your ankles and wrists

How to do it: Start off in a press-up position. Now gently push your bottom upwards and backwards to make your body form a V-shape, walking your feet or hands along the floor. 

Try to keep your arms, legs and back as straight as possible, but bend your knees if you’re struggling. 

Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat five times, taking breaks in between if you need to. Don’t worry about the depth of the V-shape – a gentle bend is fine when you first give this exercise a go. 

Push yourself a bit further as you repeat the exercise over the coming days and weeks.

Get to grips with hand strength

‘This strengthens the muscles in the forearm that help the hand grip. Doing this can really help reduce hand pain and boost function,’ says Dean.

This simple exercise needs something small and compressible in your hand

This simple exercise needs something small and compressible in your hand

How to do it: Sitting comfortably, rest your hand on the arm of a chair or your thigh with your palm facing up – and a rolled-up sock, stress ball, or anything small and compressible in your hand. 

Squeeze the sock or ball as tightly as you can for 30 seconds. Release and relax for a few seconds. 

Repeat this until your hand and forearm feels tired and achy – starting with ten at the outset. 

As it becomes easier, squeeze for longer and do more repetitions.

Lunge for your lower back

‘This is a good exercise for boosting balance as well as challenging the lower back and legs,’ says Andrew.

This is a great method of improving your balance and challenging your lower back and legs

This is a great method of improving your balance and challenging your lower back and legs

How to do it: Start in a stride position, with your right foot in front of the left. 

Now gently bend both knees as far as you can comfortably go. 

Hold this position for five seconds, then return to stride position. Repeat the sequence with the left leg in front. 

The further apart your knees are and the lower you bend, the more challenging the exercise will be. 

If you struggle to stay balanced, have a chair nearby to hold on to.

Step up to the challenge 

This focuses on the muscles in your legs, arms and shoulders

This focuses on the muscles in your legs, arms and shoulders

‘Another good all-rounder, but really focuses on the muscles in your legs, arms and shoulders,’ says Andrew.

How to do it: This exercise can be carried out with or without dumbbells or bottles of water in each hand, depending on your strength and fitness level. 

Stand in front of your stairs or an exercise step with feet shoulder-width apart. 

Raise your hands – holding the weights if you’re using them – above your head, keeping your arms straight. 

Keeping your arms raised, step up and down at a comfortable pace for one minute. 

If you have balance problems, hold on to the bannister or a chair to maintain steadiness. 

Perform for one minute.

Try the fabulous foot flexer 

‘Known as dorsiflexion and plantar flexion, this is good for strengthening calf muscles as well as boosting muscle support and mobility around your ankle,’ says Dean.

This is a great tool for strengthening the calf muscles 

This is a great tool for strengthening the calf muscles 

How to do it: Sitting comfortably with both feet on the ground, raise your right knee and bring your foot slightly off the ground. 

Using your ankle, flex your foot forwards and upwards as if you were kicking a ball or taking your foot off a car brake. 

Now flex your ankle joint backwards and point your toes downwards as if you were about to go on tiptoes. 

Repeat ten times, then repeat using the left foot.  

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