Fitness Articles

Ouch! Avoiding the Aches and Pains

Ways to Save Your Body

Exercise beginners usually try to make up for lost time by going all out their first week. The result? Injury or intense soreness. Pain does not necessarily mean gain.

Many injuries occur at joints, where bones meet and provide motion. An enormous amount of stress and constant pressure are put on your joints, even from everyday activities, especially if you have added weight. Just as you wouldn’t expect your house to handle the wear and tear without strong beams, your body won’t handle the stress without stronger muscles. Lower back pain, hip pain, shin splints, shoulder injuries, knee pain, tight calves – all can be avoided with a warm-up and proper stretching, along with a little strength exercising.

The three areas most commonly plagued with pain are the lower back, knees and shoulders. Here’s how you can alleviate each with just a little strength training and stretching:

The Lower Back
We usually think of sitting as a relaxing experience, but the lower back feels like the ceiling is coming down with all the pressure being put on it. Lower back pain is often caused by muscular imbalance. The pursuit of a flat stomach can leave you with much stronger abdominals compared to lower back. In actuality, crunches, sit-ups and all of those abdominal exercises don’t burn very many calories.

Exercises that will help strengthen the lower back:
Start out doing 1-2 exercises for 10-15 reps, two times a week.

Tight hips can also cause back pain. Runners often times feel pain in their lower back from the tightening of their hips caused during a running motion.

Knee pain is usually the result of poor muscle strength in and around the knee. The hips, quadriceps (thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh) and calves help absorb pressure and relieve a lot of the pain and tension on the knee.

Simple body weight exercises will help improve strength in all areas of your lower body and increase your range of motion, including:
Start out doing 1-2 exercises for 10-15 reps, two times a week.

Just as tight hips can cause pain in your lower back, tight hamstrings can cause pain in your knees. A proper cool down and stretch following your workout will also help increase your flexibility and prevent stiffness. See our Fitness Resource Center for ideas.

Shoulders can be a problem for many people, especially those who do a lot of overhead lifting. Check out the article on strengthening the shoulder.

Our bodies are very complex, but we actually have a lot of power to take care of the nagging aches and pains that can affect us. Take the time to incorporate these exercises into your fitness routine to help you lead a happier and healthier life.

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Member Comments

  • As a nurse who worked in orthopedics for a year I would be careful starting an exercise program like this without getting an okay from a doctor first.
  • Lunges and squats are usually not good if you're actually having knee pain, or have had any kind of knee surgery. To strengthen the muscles around the knee it is likely better to do leg extensions, curls and adduction and abduction exercises (that's probably not the right word, I doubt that you want your knee kidnapped, lol). I had a minuscus tear and surgery in Sept and have been rehabbing my knee ever since. These are the exercises I've finally been released to do at the moment. Obviously everyone has different situations, so I would recommend that you talk to your doctor before further aggravating a joint.
  • I am in the same boat with the knee injury. I still try to do the things like lunges and squats just modify them a little. I do as many reps as I can take. It might hurt to walk after my workout, but I feel babying my knee has also made it very weak. I'll see how things work out after a couple of weeks. Maybe my knee will get stronger to where it won't hurt as bad. Or it could get worse. Only time will tell.
  • YAYA179
    Thank you for this very importante informaction.
  • I am just beginning to exercise after left knee 40% meniscus removal and one of the things that is hard on the knees are the squats and lunges. If you have knee problems ask your doctor first otherwise you could be injuring your knees further. I was told I will never squat again but I can find ways around that. Also heavy lifting will cause bad knees to get worse. Just can't take all articals at face value.
    I need to lose weight but I eat a lot of my husbands snacks plus I eat a lot of yogurt and cranberries and bananas I cant do a lot of thing because of my back I have a degenerative back disc and I get axienty serve attacks on foods drinks I drink a lot of cranberry juices every day I cant lift anything pass two pounds my husband takes the laundry down stairs and brings it back up when done walking one block hurts my hips I don't work I use to weigh 135 7 yrs ago have too much stress when I cook meals I only cook enough for my husband I give him my half for his lunch for work but I all do eat is lots of cranberrys and bananas and yogurts though the day and when I am bored I usally eat my husband snacks
  • Save the article will go back and use it. I have a problem with my left knee it gives out on me sometimes.
  • I'm curious about the lunges and squats for knee pain....I understand the need to strengthen the muscles but I have heard that these exercises can aggravate bad knees. I definitely need to help in this area so if lunges and squats are okay, I am up for it!
  • We need to get away from the NO PAIN NO GAIN mentality that they teach us about exercise. Pain and soreness are quite different. If its pain, then something is wrong.
  • Thanks so much for this article! I was just about to do a search for 'knee pain' - but I didn't have to. Saving this article to reference these exercises frequently!
  • I did over an hour yesterday on the treadmill. Now my lower leg hurts. :(
  • I agree with CJNKATHYG. My low back is such that if I started with exercises like the one with the swiss ball I wouldn't be able to walk after that - it would wreck my back for at least a week maybe longer!! Even the first one if I lifted my leg back too far it would put my back in spasm. I have to be soooo careful. The cat stretch (stretching back on hands and knees) suits me best and one knee at a time to my chest. I can also do very light cardio sessions.
  • I like the animation. For some reason, reading words and pictures just doesn't do it for me but watching sure does.
    The premise of this article is absolutely correct. However, if you are completely out of shape and your joints are already feeling the pressure, these exercises are too difficult to start on immediately. These would be good if there were some good stretching exercises to start with for at least 2 weeks (or longer), followed by basic strengthening exercises, then upgrading to these exercises. If you have allowed your body to lose tone and muscle strength and you are having pain in the joint areas, you need to start slowly allowing your muscles to take stress off of the joints. Having said this, it is amazing how fast your body will start to respond. It is necessary to take it to the next level as soon as possible to really start to feel the benefits. Thank you for a great article. You have reminded me that I have to get started again.
  • This old girl still learns new tricks. This is the first time in years I have not been to the gym for strength training. I bought a treadmill and have been playing on that. Of course I don't stretch! Well my back has been killing me for weeks. I thought it was my bed so I have been sleeping on the floor. My lower back just nags & nags. Tight hips from running! That's what it is. Ok, squats, leg lifts, lunges here I come. Thank you, thank you for writing this!

About The Author

Joe Downie Joe Downie
Joe, an exercise enthusiast, is a certified physical fitness instructor and high school soccer coach.

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