A joint is where two bones meet. As we get older, the tissue in between joints begins to contract, or shrink. This makes the joint stiff and harder to move, limiting its range of motion. When you don’t have full range of motion in a joint, you’re forced to make smaller movements. This can set you up for an injury.
So here are three areas of the body to focus on so that you get older you can forgo stiffness, limits of motion and injury.
Shoulders: The shoulder is the most mobile and complicated joint of the body. It pushes, pulls, lifts and rotates. If all you ever do with it is to reach across the table for the salt or hold a phone up to your ear, most of the tissues and muscles of your shoulder are not being used. It will be hard and painful to reach up to get something from an overhead shelf or catch yourself if you ever start to fall.
Strengthen and extend your shoulder range of motion by placing hands at shoulder level. Lift your arms above your head and bring them back to your shoulder. Next, with hands at shoulder position, push the arms straight out in front of you and pull them back. Follow with arms at your sides; lifting them out and up to shoulder level. Finish by holding your arms out to the side and rotating them, first in small circles, then larger ones as your strength increases. Do each movement five to 10 times, depending on the difficulty. As it becomes easier, do the exercises while holding a pair of one to two-pound dumbbells.
Knees: Most knee exercises can be done in a kitchen chair. While sitting, raise one leg in the air, keeping the knee very slightly bent. Hold for one minute, or until your leg tires. Repeat with the other leg. Next, lie on your back and lift your legs up. Alternately bend and straighten each leg at the knee. Finally,…… using a stair or a low sturdy bench, step up and step down, first with one leg, then the other. An aerobic step, which can be purchased at most sporting goods stores, is perfect for this exercise.
Ankles: Sit on the floor for the ankle strengthening exercises. Grab a towel at each end and place your foot in the middle, keeping your leg straight. Hold the towel ends tightly and press your foot forward while pulling back on the towel. Turn your foot to each side and press hard against the towel. Use enough force so that your ankle joint has to really work.