Fitness Articles

Protecting Your Joints During Exercise

7 Common Exercise Mistakes That Hurt Your Joints

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  • Performing the same activities all the time. It's important to find activities you enjoy, because that makes it easier to stick with an exercise routine. But you can end up with too much of a good thing if you are always doing the same activity all the time. For example, you like running so you do it every day as your only form of exercise. Taxing the same muscles (and joints) in the same way day after day can easily lead to overuse injury and wearing down of cartilage. This is one reason why performing a variety of activities each week is important. By moving your muscles and joints in different directions and intensities, you can help prevent injury.
     
  • Wearing the wrong footwear. When heading into a specialty shoe store for the first time, it's easy to get sticker shock. Typically there are lots of options, many of which can be expensive.  Although you might save money by picking up some shoes on sale at your local discount store, you may also be increasing your risk of injury by wearing shoes that don't meet your needs. Employees at a specialty store are often able to analyze your foot, gait and foot strike, and look for any mechanical or anatomical issues to determine the right shoe for you. Plus, athletic shoes are designed for specific purposes. Running shoes often provide some motion control and cushioning for forward motion, but won't have the ankle support you'd need for playing basketball, which involves a lot of lateral movement and sudden directional changes. An investment in good footwear for your specific activity can prevent injury and pain, as well as the expense from doctor's visits and physical therapy. Learn how to pick the right athletic shoe.
     
  • Exercising with improper technique. Whether riding a stationary bike or lifting weights, proper technique is essential to preventing joint injury. For example, if the seat of the bike isn't positioned properly, it can put extra pressure on the knee that wouldn't otherwise occur, increasing the risk of injury. If you try a new weight machine at the gym without knowing how to use it, this increases your risk of injury. If you don't have ideal gait patterns or alignment (and most people don't), you are putting your joints at risk with every step, lunge, jump and squat--unless you know how to correct yourself. The truth is, few people without formal instruction know how to line up every joint and move through the correct range of motion that keeps their joints safe. While it's something anyone can learn, it takes diligence and attention during every movement--not just in the beginning, but forever. If you aren't sure how to do an exercise properly, ask! Most gyms have trained fitness staff who are there to help. You could also hire a personal trainer for a short time to learn these basics, or even go to a group fitness class where a qualified instructor will be able to explain and point out those keys so that all participants stay safe.
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • ADAMWILLEY
    By doing exercise, our body becomes flexible, but sometimes by picking up the heavy load it affects our joints and gets paining. So, while doing exercise it needs to be careful.
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    http://www.cell
    ublue.com/ - 7/24/2014 7:23:35 AM
  • FROGSMILE
    I thought high impact was only when both feet were off the ground at the same time--even for a very brief interval. Does one foot off the ground become high impact if the return to Earth is intense? - 6/7/2013 7:59:51 AM
  • Sensible advice! I am a treadmill junkie, and try hard to avoid knee pain by stretching after each session and, on most days, using the foam roller. I have the foam roller right on the living room floor to remind me to use it! - 6/6/2013 7:28:13 AM
  • I'm also sold on stretching and using a foam roller. I should do it daily, but even just three or four times a week makes a difference. - 6/4/2013 12:01:19 PM
  • I'm also sold on stretching and using a foam roller. I should do it daily, but even just three or four times a week makes a difference. - 6/4/2013 12:01:19 PM
  • I commute by bike 3-4 days a week and usually go for a long ride on the weekends. I try to take two days a week off the bike. But when I'm off the bike for 3-4 days, I'm amazed how fresh and fast my legs feel. I'm completely sold on the power of recovery days. That keeps me honest when it comes to staying off the bike a couple of days a week. I know I'll be fitter and healthier for it. - 6/4/2013 11:58:58 AM
  • Yes, I am guilty of a few of these! - 6/4/2013 10:29:22 AM
  • UNAMAR
    I routinely rest 1 - 2 days a week. For sure every Sunday is my day of rest. the second exercise rest day is forced on me whenever I travel for business. I make a concerted effort to exrcise at the very least five days a week with a target of six days. - 6/4/2013 9:44:08 AM
  • Yes on Saturday I say that's my rest day or I'll say when I come from church on Sunday I am relaxing not true. Then I hear my hubby saying you need to sit down and rest.. - 6/4/2013 8:13:17 AM
  • I know a lot of people don't like to take rest days but I know it when I need to take one! My body makes sure to let me know. And I listen! - 5/13/2013 9:35:47 AM
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