Do you suffer from stiff or sore joints? Professionals recommend daily physical activity, and swimming can be a great way to ease pain and stay active.
Why swimming is good for the joints
Swimming – whether it’s 40 lengths or just a few widths – is a brilliant way of exercising in its own right, and a failsafe way of keeping active if you’re experiencing joint stiffness. The fact is, the water acts as an aid – supporting 90% of your body. It takes the strain off the joints, allowing you to perform movements that would otherwise be painful. It also builds muscle strength, stimulates blood flow, and helps to relax joints.
Need a break from lengths? Or want to try something a little more low-key? Here are a few exercises to try next time you’re in the pool…
If you struggle to walk regularly due to joint stiffness, you’ll really benefit from walking in a mildly heated pool. Water reduces the effect of gravity, so the impact on your joints is much lower, allowing you to make movements you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. Plus, the heat helps to relax muscles and reduce stiffness.
This exercise is great for relieving tension in the shoulders. Keep your head above water and raise both arms up until they are just below the surface. Keep your elbows straight. Make circles with your arms, gradually increasing the size. Make sure your arms don’t come out of the water or cross each other.
For an increase in agility and to improve ease of movement, try a simple side-stepping exercise. To begin, stand in at least waist-high water and face the pool wall. Take between 10 and 20 slow sideways steps with your toes facing the wall. Repeat in the other direction.
To perform this muscle-strengthening exercise, stand with your back or left side against the pool wall. Bend your knee and bring your thigh as parallel to the water level as you can. Straighten your leg and then bend it again. Lower your leg back down, keeping the knee bent. Repeat with the other knee.
For this exercise, begin in chest-high water with your feet together and hands by your side. Jump with your legs in a starfish position and bring your arms upwards, just below the water’s surface. Return to your starting position and repeat as many times as comfortable.
Our top tips for looking after your body in the water
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause damage to your joints, and even though it may not feel like you’re sweating, you need to ensure you stay hydrated when in the pool.
- Take your time. Leave enough time for a decent warm up and cool down. If you’re feeling tired one day, be kind to yourself and don’t overdo it.
- Listen to your body. If you feel any pain, make sure you take a break. And slow down if you notice any unusual swelling.
- Think about your supplies. Kickboards and pool noodles – available in most swimming pools – can offer added support. Boards allow your upper body to take a rest. And pool noodles give some added buoyancy.
- Talk to your doctor. Discuss any concerns you have with your GP to determine whether any sort of pain is normal or a sign of something more serious.
- And most importantly, have fun! The key to living a healthier lifestyle is finding something that you genuinely enjoy.
Getting support with iMOVE
If you’ve spotted the signs of stiff joints, you can get extra support from our iMOVE supplement, specially designed to tackle the effects of joint stiffness with a unique triple-action formula. Find out more here.