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2016
11
30

Exercise these three joints to stay flexible as you age

Three major joints in the body have to be strengthened by everyone over the age of 50. Otherwise, growing older will be a miserable experience.

You probably already know that a joint is where two bones meet. Something else you may know: Bones are connected to each other by dense white tissues called ligaments. Muscles are connected to bones by thick tendons at each end of the muscle. As we get older, these white tissues tend to contract, or shrink. This makes the joint stiff and harder to move, limiting its range of motion.

When you don’t have full range of motion in a joint, you’re forced to make smaller movements. This is a setup for injury. If the joint is accidentally stretched past its limited range of motion, the non-pliable and brittle connective tissues may sprain or tear. How many people over 50 do you know who have sprained or torn a ligament or tendon and had to have surgery or wear a brace?

It would be great if all middle-agers worked on stretching and moving every joint in their body three or four times a week. Everyone would be more flexible. Tissues would be pliable and easy to move. There would be less pain and far fewer injuries. But even with all the benefits, few folks will have the discipline to do it. However, if you work on just three joints every other day, it will help your vigor and flexibility, no matter what your age (this goes for those of you in your 40’s as well).

The three joints are shoulders, knees and ankles. These joints are used every time you reach for something or take a step. They are easy to work. If you wish to walk with a youthful spring, moving around without pain or limitation, you need only a few easy exercises, each of which can be done at home.

Shoulders: The shoulder is the most mobile and complicated joint of the body. It pushes, pulls, lifts and rotates. If all you ever do with it is to reach across the table for the salt, or hold a phone up to your ear, most of the tissues and muscles of your shoulder are not being used. It will be hard and painful to reach up to get something from an overhead shelf or catch yourself if you ever start to fall.

Using the circuit will certainly increase upper body strength and flexibility. As it become easier, try to progress the exercises using a pair of dumbbells.  Speak to a member of the gym who will be happy to advice on exercise prescription and progression.

Knees: Most knee exercises can be done in the form of a compound exercise such a squat or dead lift, however, these exercises may be to much to start with.  Our leg machines in the gym are designed specifically to help increase strength and mobility in a safe and controlled manner.

Ankles: There are a few exercises which can be done with a band or piece of rubber tubing, however the best form for ankle exercise is anything where the ankle joint is repeatedly moving, preferably with some form of impact.  This can be walking, cycling or bouncing.  Most forms of cardio exercise will typically help keep blood flow around those ankles.

Exercising these joints will help your body stay strong and pain-free for the rest of your life.

author: Damien Stone