Stiff and achy joints can affect your ability to complete a variety of daily tasks, from walking up stairs to getting out of your chair. Your joints work together with other elements of the musculoskeletal system to keep your body moving, and when they stiffen, it can impair your range of mobility. Stiff joints can worsen with lack of use, as without regular movement, they will begin to degenerate. To prevent this from happening, try out some of the mobility enhancing exercises detailed below.
Neck circles. A stiff neck can occur from spending hours hunched over your computer and staring at a screen and can make tasks like turning your head while driving or even finding a comfortable sleeping position increasingly difficult. Your stiff neck can also impact your back and create knots and tension in the muscles of the neck and back. Fight this stiffness by completing a set of neck circles. To do so, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulders rolled back and in line with the spine. Lower your chin to your chest, and slowly roll the left ear over the left shoulder, return to center, then roll the right ear to the right shoulder. Complete this exercise 5 to 10 times to help loosen a stiff neck.
Backstroke. Your range of motion in your shoulder joints can deteriorate over time due to improper posture, making it difficult to lift and raise your arms. Combat this by performing a standing backstroke, in which you stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart and elbows locked. Lift your right arm straight out in front of you and slowly circle it back as if you were swimming, then do the same with your left arm. Repeat 10 to 20 times per arm.
Pelvic circles. Pelvic circles can loosen up and lubricate the hip joints and lumbar spine. Perform this exercise by standing with your feet hip width apart and placing your hands on your hips. Keeping your feet planted, swivel your hips in a circular motion while contracting your core. Repeat these circles 5 to 10 times in each direction.
Ankle circles. Stiff ankles can cause issues with other joints such as your knees, especially if you enjoy running. Restoring mobility to the ankle can in turn realign your knee and improve your stride, lessening the risk of suffering from another injury. Perform ankle circles by sitting or standing up straight and lifting one foot off the ground. Flex your foot, bringing your toes towards your shin, then circle your ankle and point your toes at the bottom of the movement for full extension before returning to the starting position. Repeat these circles 5 to 10 times in both directions for both legs.
Impaired joint mobility can put a damper not only on your exercise routine, but on your daily activities as well. Fight joint stiffness by using the exercises above and get yourself moving again in no time. The best way to prevent joint stiffness is to stay active, and these exercises can help you get back to your regular level of activity.
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