Though you may be tempted to write off workouts when your joints are throbbing and aching, exercise is actually one of the best ways to relieve joint pain. Ignoring your pain won’t make it go away; in fact, it may compound the problem. According to Harvard Health, the right sorts of exercises can offer long-term relief to those who suffer from joint pain. Of course, some exercises can also cause joint pain. So if you’re wondering how to treat sore joints after exercise, start by considering how you might adjust your workout routine to limit your joint pain before it begins.
How to Limit Joint Pain
It’s relatively common to experience joint pain after exercise, especially if you haven’t been active in a while. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you follow these guidelines to minimize joint pain caused by exercise:
- Talk to your doctor. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist to decide which exercises will work well for you. With their help, you can devise a plan that gives you great physical benefit while also minimizing your joint pain.
- Apply heat. Before you begin, relax your joints using heat (warm towels, a hot pack, a shower, a bath) for about 20 minutes.
- Start slow. Ease into your exercise routine with gentle, non-strenuous movements. You may wish to focus on stretches and range-of-motion exercises first.
- Listen to your body. If you feel sharp pain or notice swelling and redness, take a break. Trust your instincts, and don’t overexert yourself.
- Choose low-impact exercises. For example, you could choose a stationary bike, elliptical, or water aerobics.
- Apply ice. After your workout, apply ice to your joints if needed to reduce swelling.
You may want to know how to treat sore joints after exercise, but you’ll have better luck if you’re proactive and take steps to prevent joint pain before it occurs.
How to Treat Sore Joints After Exercise
When you’re already in pain, use these tips to lessen it:
- Use heat therapy. Heat therapy will help soothe the pain. You could apply a warm compress (a heat pack, a warm wet towel) or simply take a warm bath.
- Use cold therapy. Cold therapy (an ice pack, a frozen gel pack, a coolant spray) will help reduce swelling.
- Use an anti-inflammatory medication. Over-the-counter medications, including drugs and topical creams, are available to help you manage your pain and reduce joint swelling. Your doctor may recommend certain products.
- Don’t place more stress on the joint. If you continue placing stress on the joint, you may aggravate it and worsen the pain. Avoid movements that worsen the pain until the pain has subsided. Gentle exercises that don’t cause pain are recommended, however.
If your pain persists, you may have exercised too strenuously or you may be injured. Contact your doctor for advice.
A little soreness can be a sign that you’ve had a good workout, but you shouldn’t suffer from severe joint pain after exercising. If you’re avoiding workouts due to the stress they place on your joints, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist. Performed correctly, exercise is a great way to minimize joint pain.
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