10 Moves To Help Ease Joint Pain

Thanks for giving Jessica Gouthro from Paleohacks such a warm reception last week. I’m glad you found her “13 Ways To Move More At Work” useful. She’s joining us again today to offer tips for those who are looking to ease joint pain. Enjoy!

It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true: one of the best ways to ease joint pain is to exercise!

Whether you’re feeling aches and pains in your elbows or your lower back and hips, the key to managing and preventing joint and muscle pain is to exercise in the right way. If you have existing pain or joint discomfort, then you need to keep your workouts low-impact, but that doesn’t have to mean easy or ineffective.

You can keep reduce impact and lower your risk of injury by performing exercises that place less stress on the joints.

Some of the most popular low-impact workout options include:

  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Elliptical cardio
  • Incline walking
  • Controlled light-resistance weight training
  • Stretching and yoga

Aside from keeping your workouts low-impact, you can also start doing simple exercises to ease discomfort in specific parts of your body, like these 13 stretches for lower back pain or these 13 feel-good hip openers.

Try all 10 of the following exercises to relieve different forms of joint pain. You’ll need a chair, a small hand towel, a light dumbbell, and a resistance band for some of these moves. Remember your favorites and include them in your workouts anytime you feel discomfort in your joints.

1) “Wring the Towel” Wrist Stretch | 10 reps

Roll up a small towel and grab the ends with both hands.

Hold your arms out in front of you with palms facing down.

Slowly and with control, pretend you are wringing water out of the towel. Tilt one wrist up and the other wrist down at the same time, then alternate sides.

Continue wringing the towel in both directions for 10 full reps.

2) Dumbbell Wrist Curl | 10 reps per side

Sit on a chair or bench. Hold a light dumbbell in one hand and rest your elbow on your knee.

Keeping your arm still, exhale to flex your forearm and bend your wrist towards you to curl the dumbbell up.

Inhale to relax your wrist back to the starting position. .

Repeat for 10 slow and controlled reps, focusing on full range of motion with your wrist. Then switch sides.

3) Elbow Compression with Small Towel | 3 reps per side

Hold your arm out long. Roll up a small towel and place it right over your elbow.

Make a fist and curl your arm towards you, bending your elbow all the way closed on the towel. Aim to reach your knuckles to your shoulder.

Use your other hand to gently press inward on the back of your wrist to increase the compression. Breathe deeply as you hold for five seconds, then switch sides.

Complete three reps per side.

4) Narrow Grip Wall Press Tricep Extension | 10 reps

Place your palms flat on the wall at your chest height.

Step back a few feet so your body is at a slight angle. Ensure that your palms are flush against the wall.

Bend your elbows to lower your body towards the wall, keeping your elbows pointing straight down.

Stop when your elbows are about 3 inches from the wall and press back to straighten arms, flexing your elbows all the way.

Continue for 10 reps.

Tip: For a greater challenge, you can try this exercise with palms on a bench.

5) Hip and Low Back Compression Stretch | 3 reps per side

Lay flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground.

Lift one knee towards your chest, using your hands to pull it in towards you. Actively work to ground your hips.

Take five deep breaths, then switch and do the same on the other side.

Continue alternating sides to complete three reps per side.

6) Pelvic Tilt | 10 reps

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Hinge at the hips and place your palms on your knees.

Lift your sitting bones and tilt your pelvis forward to create an arch in your lower back and stretch your hamstrings. Keep your neck in neutral and shoulders relaxed. Hold for a few breaths.

Next, round your lower spine and tuck your pelvis under to form a round shape. Hold for a few breaths.

Alternate between tilting forward and back for 10 reps, holding each pose as long as you like to relieve the pain and pressure in your low back and hips.

7) Single Leg Toe Touch | 10 reps per side

Stand on one foot and look down towards the ground to get balanced.

Hinge at the hips as you raise your back leg behind you, reaching your fingers toward the toes of the standing leg. Get as parallel to the ground as you can.

Slowly rise back up with control.

Repeat 10 reps on one side, then switch to the other side.

8) Glute Kicks | 10 reps

Kneel down on all fours and flex your right foot. Keep your left foot relaxed.

Lift your right leg up to form a straight line from your right knee to shoulders, with your right foot facing the ceiling.

Hold at the top for three seconds while engaging your glutes, then relax your knee back to the ground.

Repeat on the same side for 10 reps, then switch to the other side.

9) Resistance Band Knee Extension with a Chair | 10 reps per side

Loop a resistance band around one leg of a chair, and place the other end of the band behind one of your knees.

Grab the seat of the chair with your hands. Then step back until you feel a good amount of tension on the band.

Your banded leg should be directly below your hips.

Straighten your leg fully, resisting the tension on the band.

Then relax the knee. Keep your foot flat on the ground the entire time.

Repeat for 10 reps, then switch legs.

10) Isometric Quad Flex | 6 reps per side

Sit on the ground and place a rolled up bath towel under your right knee.

Place your hands on the ground behind you for support and sit up tall.

Flex your right leg to lift your heel off the ground. You should feel all the muscles surrounding your knee fire up.

Hold this flex for five full seconds, then relax.

Repeat six times on this side, then switch to the left leg.

Tip: For a challenge, increase the number of reps or increase each hold to eight seconds.

Revisit these helpful exercises anytime you feel joint pain or discomfort. As always, be smart about working through an injury. If your body is telling you to rest, do it. When the time is right, apply these gentle exercises to help you get stronger and feel better.

Thanks again to Jessica Gouthro for these tips and to Brad Gouthro for demonstrating them. Questions or comments about exercises or treatment for joint pain? Share them below, and thanks for stopping by.

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24 thoughts on “10 Moves To Help Ease Joint Pain”

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  1. Thanks… I got joint pain just from looking at that double-jointed dude ?

  2. Foam rollouts before and after the gym plus using a hard orange lacrosse ball to get the knots out allows me to hit the gym hard and recover. A cold shower or bath or ice does the trick on the sore days. Come to accept that less is more at age 58 and welcome the days off. Also discovered the benefit of deep tissue massage and having a top rated and up to date sports physiotherapist on speed dial.

    1. Amen to that:

      Come to accept that less is more at age 58 and welcome the days off.

      (in my case age 67)

      And my on-call physiotherapist is my rumble-roller foam roller

      1. Hey thanks Wildgrok, enjoy your posts and knowing you are rolling at 67. Grok on!

  3. Could recurring joint pain be the result of weakened joints from extended breastfeeding? I had joint pain all growing up which got better and less frequent after cutting grains, and flares up if I eat sugar again, but it also comes at random times, namely in my wrists, hips, and ankles, sometimes making it hard to go about my day normally. I have breastfed almost non stop from age 18-22 (still nighttime nursing) minus about 5 months during my pregnancy with my second. I noticed the hip pain came after breastfeeding for a while (I never got hip pain before my pregnancies) and it is usually the most painful. I was wondering if Mark could do a post on the topic of joint health for extended breastfeeding moms. (I also lost a lot of my muscle it seems as the years have gone by, despite lifting babies all the time) my unfortunate belief is that two full term pregnancies with years of nursing drained my body stores (because I didn’t have adequate nutrition while pregnant and nursing).
    Thanks for this article. I did always feel the need to rotate my wrists a lot when they ached.

  4. These are good. For lower back pain MacKenzie’s book Fix your own Back is great!
    A terrific low impact workout – use a rebounder for any exercise, including intervals. Won’t bother those knee and hip joints and it helps to reset your nervous system.

  5. Number 9 also works well standing up and pressing the back of your knee against a Swiss ball. That one exercise alone really helped decrease my joint pain in my knees.

    And it looks like number 6, the pelvic tilt, is just a standing version of the yoga cat/cow?

  6. My mother is suffering from joint pain for very long and there has been trying some exercises like the number4,5 and 3, but I will show her this blog and ask her to do the other which she can do easily. Although she tried many things to get relieved from it but that pain doesn’t go permanently. I hope this really works for her and she feels relieved.

  7. I did a few of the lower body exercises and they were definitely helpful as I have really bad knee pain. Thank you for the great article!

  8. Many people refrain themselves from exercises if they get joint pain, but you have clearly stated the reason why one should do exercise for joint pain.

  9. The most joint pain I have is through my forearms so I’m kind of sad I don’t see much forearm joint pain help on here. So, ill share what I think helps the most for forearms tendinitis.

    1. Wrist extension.
    2. Wrist flexion.
    3. Fist clench with your forearm on the table and your palm facing the ceiling squeezing a towel.
    4. Supination with a dumbbell
    5. take 2 barbells placed waist height and on the end where the weight goes tie a rope around it and tighten it with your elbow in between the 2 barbells until you feel it squeezing your forearms.
    6. hang from a pullup area as long as possible.