Having tight and stiff joints can feel like being trapped in your own body. Here are 8 exercises to keep your joints flexible.
If you want to move with ease or achieve higher athletic goals, then it might be time to start focusing on mobility. Sometimes the key to improving your flexibility is not just about being more active. It’s about doing the right exercises and supporting your body with the nutrients and habits that lead to lasting joint health. So, what are the best exercises and tips to help you improve your mobility? Read on to find out!
What Causes Stiff Joints?
Joint health is a balancing act. We need our joints to be stable enough to support our weight, but also flexible enough so we can use our full range of motion.
Maintaining flexibility is particularly tough – especially if you have a sedentary job or are already experiencing some stiffness and pain. The less we move, the more likely we are to develop adhesions, tight muscles, and reduced movement in our joints.
Plus, flexibility and mobility are not just about joint health, but how pliable and nourished the muscles and tendons are. So, we need to take the entire system into consideration when training for better mobility.
Our Top Mobility Exercises to Improve Joint Flexibility and Function
Whether you want to ease tight and stiff joints or you are hoping to maintain your natural flexibility for years to come, staying active is the first step. Let’s get moving with a few head-to-toe mobility exercises that enhance your joint health and function.
1) Neck Circles
Neck circles open up all the vertebrae in the cervical spine, stretch the muscles of the neck, and bring circulation to the head.
Start by standing or sitting. Drop your chin to your chest, then slowly roll your right ear to hover over your right shoulder. From there, gently roll your head back and over to your left shoulder. Slowly roll to the center. Repeat 5-10 times in this direction, then switch to the other direction and repeat.
2) Thoracic Spine Windmills
Let’s move down to the thoracic spine, your chest, and ribcage. You may not think of your thoracic spine when you think of mobility, but it is actually this region that allows you to fully move your arms overhead and turn your body side to side. Without good mobility here, you may struggle with shoulder pain, poor posture, and upper back pain. For those who work on a computer, this exercise is essential!
Lie on the floor and roll to your side. Make sure you have a foam roller or rolled-up towel within reach. Bend your knees and hips to 90 degrees and rest your knees on the floor. Straighten your bottom leg, place the foam roller or towel in between the legs, and rest your top leg on top (still in a bent position).
Extend your arms out in front of your body along the floor, palms together. Slowly lift the top arm and rotate it away from you. You should feel your chest open up towards the ceiling. Rotate your head and trunk until you can reach your hand to the other side of your body (or as close as you can get). Hold for 3-5 seconds. Slowly bring your head, torso, and arm back to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 times on each side.
3) Pelvic Circles
Pelvic circles are a great way to increase the mobility in your entire lower back and hips. This exercise opens the spine and hips and lubricates the joints. The key to this exercise is starting slow and not pushing your hips too far with the first circle. With each rotation, gradually increase your range until you feel resistance (but not pain).
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands on your hips. Plant your feet into the ground and engage your core. Move your hips in a wide circular motion. Repeat 10 times in each direction.
4) Knee Circles
Moving down to the knee, this exercise helps stretch the leg muscles while opening up the knee and hip joints.
While standing, raise and bend one knee so your thigh runs parallel to the floor. Extend the leg straight out in front of you. Create circles with your knee by bringing the heel to the outside of your hip and back to the starting position. Then, circle it inwards towards the opposite inner thigh and back to the extended position. Do 10 circles in each direction, then switch to the opposite leg.
5) Ankle Circles
Finally, we finish off with ankle circles. Mobilizing the ankles helps to stabilize not just the foot, but the knees and low back. It also helps relieve fallen arches and plantar fasciitis.
Why so many “circle” exercises? Studies show that dynamic stretching (stretching while moving) is more effective than static stretching. These types of exercises help us break through stiffness in the joints and muscles and increase circulation through the area.
Stand or sit with one heel lifted off the ground. Flex your foot, bringing your toes towards your shin. Rotate your ankle around, then point your toes as you extend outwards. Repeat 5-10 times in both directions, then repeat with the other ankle.
Lifestyle Tips for Better Mobility and Pain Prevention
Now that you’ve got a daily routine of joint flexibility exercises, let’s support the body with healthy mobility habits.
1) Eat for healthy joint movement.
A nutritious diet not only helps you maintain a healthy weight (which relieves pressure from your joints) but also gives your joints the nutrients they need to function at their best. For the joints, this usually means plenty of vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
- Foods with calcium and vitamin D to strengthen the bones: green leafy vegetables, bone broth, sardines, nuts, tofu, mushrooms.
- Foods with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties: fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans, lentils.
- Foods with omega-3 fatty acids to fight inflammation in the connective tissues and joints: coldwater fish, nuts, seeds.
2) Enhance mobility with a daily dose of Aceva Mobility.
When you’re struggling with stiff joints and poor range of movement, you want to move better – and feel better – fast. Aceva’s Mobility supplement is a simple daily habit with a powerful impact.
This supplement features potent turmeric and herbal extracts to improve your overall joint health and function. It does so by substantially reducing inflammation, which in turn relieves swelling, stiffness, and pain. Aceva’s unique formula contains BioPerine®, a natural substance that enhances the bioavailability of the herbal ingredients to give it fast-acting and long-lasting results.
But unlike medications like NSAIDs, Mobility actually heals the joint and surrounding tissues so you can prevent joint pain in the future. Plus, it has none of the negative side-effects of mediations.
3) Get regular chiropractic care.
The best way to attack joint and mobility issues is to stop them from happening in the first place. Along with alleviating the stiffness and soreness associated with poor mobility, regular chiropractic care can also ensure that you keep joint issues at bay as you age.
Want to run faster? Jump higher? Dance more gracefully? Chiropractic care can also help you achieve athletic goals. At AlignLife, our chiropractors are here to guide you through a treatment plan or preventative plan designed to help you reach your flexibility and lifestyle goals.
Move with Ease at AlignLife
You’ll be amazed at how quickly and substantially your joint health can improve when you take the time to practice these exercises and tips each day.
Of course, you’ll make the most progress when you combine daily joint mobility exercises with chiropractic care. An AlignLife Chiropractor can create a personalized, strategic care plan to help you train your body to be more flexible and mobile.
Don’t miss out on life because you’re trapped by stiff and sore joints. Improve your mobility, flexibility, and function with a joint health wellness plan. Getting started is easy – simply click here to schedule a visit with your local AlignLife Chiropractor and start on your path to pain-free movement.