Did You Know: Strength Training Can Actually Ease Joint Pain and Enhance Mobility - Better Living

Did You Know: Strength Training Can Actually Ease Joint Pain and Enhance Mobility

strength training for joint pain

When it comes to joint pain, many people assume that exercise may exacerbate the discomfort. However, contrary to popular belief, there is strong supporting evidence that suggests the opposite, in that strength training can actually alleviate joint pain and enhance mobility. Here are some examples:

  1. Muscle Strength and Joint Support: A study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology demonstrated that individuals with stronger quadriceps muscles experienced reduced knee pain and improved function, particularly in those with knee osteoarthritis. Strong muscles around the knee joint help distribute forces more evenly, reducing the strain on the joint itself.
  2. Cartilage Health: Another study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that resistance training improved the health of cartilage in individuals with knee osteoarthritis. The participants who engaged in strength training exhibited thicker cartilage and decreased joint space narrowing, indicating a protective effect on joint health.
  3. Impact on Arthritic Conditions: Studies conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international research network, have shown that strength training programs can effectively reduce pain and improve physical function in individuals with osteoarthritis. The findings emphasize the importance of strength training as a non-pharmacological approach for managing joint pain associated with arthritic conditions.
  4. Functional Benefits for Daily Activities: Strength training not only alleviates joint pain but also improves overall physical function. A systematic review published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity demonstrated that strength training interventions in older adults resulted in enhanced functional performance, including increased walking speed, improved balance, and better ability to perform daily tasks.

Stepping back, let’s consider what causes joint pain in the first place. We have a great detailed write-up here: All About Joint Pain that demystifies the topic, but generally joint pain is an almost universal complaint, especially as we age. Conditions such as arthritis, overuse injuries, and general wear and tear can contribute to joint discomfort. One of the primary reasons for joint pain is the lack of muscular support surrounding the joints. Weak muscles fail to provide adequate stability, resulting in increased stress and pressure on the joints themselves. This is where strength training comes into play.

The Role of Strength Training: Strength training, also known as resistance training, involves performing exercises that target specific muscle groups using resistance, such as weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight. It goes beyond building muscle and has a significant impact on joint health. Here’s how it works:

  1. Improved Muscle Strength: By engaging in strength training exercises, you directly target and strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints. This increased muscle strength provides better support and stability, effectively reducing the strain on your joints.
  2. Enhanced Joint Stability: Strong muscles act as protective “cushions” for your joints. As you strengthen the muscles around the affected joints, they become more stable, minimizing excessive movement and reducing the risk of joint injuries or pain.
  3. Better Shock Absorption: Strong muscles act as shock absorbers, lessening the impact on your joints during everyday activities or high-impact movements. This can significantly reduce discomfort and prevent further joint damage.
  4. Increased Range of Motion: Strength training exercises often involve working through a full range of motion, which can improve joint flexibility and mobility. With enhanced range of motion, you can move more freely and perform daily activities with greater ease.

Incorporating Strength Training into Your Routine: If you’re considering adding strength training to your fitness regimen to alleviate joint pain, follow these steps to get started:

  1. Consult a Professional: Before embarking on any exercise program, consult with a healthcare professional or certified trainer to assess your current fitness level and discuss any specific considerations or modifications based on your joint condition.
  2. Start Slowly: Begin with light weights or resistance bands and gradually increase the intensity over time. This allows your muscles and joints to adapt without undue stress.
  3. Focus on Proper Form: Pay attention to your technique and maintain proper form during exercises to ensure maximum effectiveness and minimize the risk of injury. If needed, work with a trainer to learn correct form and alignment.
  4. Target Major Muscle Groups: Incorporate exercises that target major muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, chest presses, rows, and shoulder presses. These exercises engage multiple joints and muscles simultaneously, promoting overall strength and stability.
  5. Include Resistance and Weight Variations: As you progress, gradually increase the resistance or weight used in your exercises. This progressive overload stimulates muscle growth and further enhances joint support.
  6. Allow for Rest and Recovery: Adequate rest and recovery are essential for muscle repair and growth. Plan your strength training sessions with ample rest days in between to give your body time to heal and adapt.

Strength training isn’t just about building muscles; it can also play a crucial role in easing joint pain and enhancing mobility. By improving muscle strength and stability, you provide better support to your joints, reducing discomfort and enabling a more active and fulfilling lifestyle. Remember to consult with a professional, start slowly, and focus on proper form to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risk of injury. Embrace the surprising power of strength training and take a step toward improved joint health and overall well-being.

About Better Living: 

Better Living is dedicated to empowering individuals to live their best lives. With a focus on well-being and holistic health, Better Living offers a range of resources, expert guidance, and personalized recommendations to support individuals on their wellness journey. From trusted products to exclusive offers, Better Living provides the tools and knowledge needed to unlock a life of vitality, ease, and fulfillment. Discover the power of Better Living and embark on a transformative path towards enhanced well-being.

Join the Better Living – Fitness & Lifestyle Newsletter 

The Fitness & Lifestyle Newsletter from Better Living is your ultimate guide to achieving a balanced and active lifestyle. With over 2.2 million current sign-ups, it offers a wealth of resources, expert tips, and personalized recommendations to help you optimize your fitness journey. From workout routines and nutrition advice to mindfulness practices and self-care tips, the Fitness & Lifestyle Newsletter equips you with the tools and knowledge to enhance your physical and mental well-being. Embrace a healthier, more vibrant lifestyle with the Fitness & Lifestyle Newsletter from Better Living and unlock your full potential for a happier, more fulfilling life.

Tyler has a Master's degree in Sports Science & Nutrition, he is a Precision Nutrition L2 Nutrition Coach and a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and he proudly serves as Better Living's Director of Scientific Affairs. Tyler has coached hundreds of clients and written dozens of evidence-based articles covering health, nutrition, and fitness. Tyler lives in Austin, Texas, with his beautiful wife Amie and precious daughter Parker Ashlee. Tyler and Amie are passionate about helping people live better, healthier, and more meaningful lives.