Whether you are hiking, biking, surfing, kayaking, playing volleyball or just hanging on the beach, it is a great time to get your body, bones and joints healthy.
We’ve been waiting for it: summer is officially here, which means it is time to enjoy the beautiful weather with some fun outdoor activities. Whether you are hiking, biking, surfing, kayaking, playing volleyball or just hanging on the beach, it is a great time to get your body, bones and joints healthy.
Staying active is extremely important and beneficial to our overall health. Adopting a healthy and active lifestyle helps you maintain a healthier body weight, which reduces the stress and builds the strength of your joints. On the other hand, high impact activities can cause more damage and increased symptoms, especially if you have experienced previous joint injuries and/or surgery. You can limit high impact activities and try some of the following physical activities, which are low-impact, joint-friendly alternatives:
Summer is the perfect time for this very refreshing, low-impact activity. Swimming works several different muscle groups simultaneously, ranging from your core to your legs and arms, because water provides resistance for your muscles to work against. Swimming allows muscles and joints to stretch and strengthen, all while giving your body a great workout. This activity is a viable workout for anyone, even those with existing injuries, such as joint weakness and arthritis, because swimming takes pressure off your joints. While in water, your body only bears a fraction of your weight, proving easier and less stressful on the joints, making it a great low-impact exercise.
Cycling allows the body to strengthen muscles that support your joints, while bearing little or no weight on the joints. For example, cycling strengthens knee muscles without traumatizing the joint, leading to greater stability and a reduced risk of future injuries. Both indoor and outdoor cycling are great alternatives to running, but if you plan to do so outside, be cautious of steep and rocky terrain.
Walking is one of the most basic forms of exercise that almost anyone can complete. Walking is a muscle and bone strengthening activity that reduces stress in the joints. The movement of joints while walking produces synovial fluid, which reduces pain and promotes flexibility within your bones and joints. Walking also helps circulate blood and nutrients throughout the body, which will help to decrease any inflammation you may have surrounding your joints. I encourage you to make regular walks a part of your daily routine, and take advantage of the nice weather by finding a beach or park to do your walk. Sand is softer than concrete and asphalt and therefore is less stressful on your joints.
This relaxing alternative provides your body with great flexibility, muscles strength and range of motion with no wear and tear on your joints. While yoga is a great way to build the muscle around your joints, it’s also famously known to reduce existing physical pain and discomfort including that within your joints. Yoga can be modified in many ways to help protect your joints, and can be adapted to your specific needs. Engaging in yoga has also been shown to boost energy and ease stress, thus minimizing the risk of suffering from a serious injury. If you are looking to spend more time outdoors, yoga can also be practiced outside with a yoga mat. Look for yoga sessions in the local park or beach, or do your own yoga exercises in your yard, as long as you educate yourself first on the proper motions.
If you find yourself participating in any high-impact activities this summer, remember that proper exercise, training, healthy weight management and proper nutrition are all vital components in keeping your joints strong and healthy. If you experience any pain or uncomfortable feelings during your summer activities, I encourage you to visit your local orthopedic physician for assessment and to discuss an exercise plan or a personalized treatment plan, if needed.
Dr. Tauro is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Ocean County Sports Medicine, located in Toms River, NJ. He specializes in the prevention and treatment of sports injuries and degenerative joint conditions, and is recognized worldwide as an innovator in the development of advanced minimally-invasive treatment methods and procedures. Dr. Tauro also serves as Associate Professor of Orthopedics at Rutgers Medical School. More information on Dr. Tauro and his practice can be found at www.oceancountysportsmedicine.com or by calling (732) 341-6226.
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