Of knees, fingers and toes …
So, there I was dodging the sudden rain at lunch time yesterday and out of nowhere, my knees screamed out, “you’re 50-something woman, WHY are you trying to bend!”
Similarly, my fingers and toes have been yelling at me lately — all of which is another way of saying (a) they’re still cold from the long winter or (b) I’m becoming a woman of a “certain age” that has got to sort out how to oil-up these joints!
For the latter, my usual response is to say, “give me a hot sweaty gym in mid-summer and I’ll train forever.” Really, there is something to walking in sweaty that just gases me to train longer and harder. Otherwise I find that I have to stay in the hot shower that much longer in the morning not to mention taking a lot of extra time warming up.
Okay, we’re not talking gnarly knees here yet, but I went to do a knee bend last night and thought I might get stuck mid-way forever. And on last Saturday’s run — ah, make that S-L-O-W jog — I had the feeling that if I wanted to run faster, say if my life depended on it, I couldn’t have!
In checking it out, I found some tips that seem intuitive and smart, and may prove useful to Girlboxing friends with stiffening joints whether from all that over-use in the gym or the age thing!
1. Range of Motion Exercises: This one makes a lot of sense, especially for the knees, but shoulders, neck, wrists and other “cold spots” can gain a lot of benefits. You can start with a small circular movements, and when it comes to your shoulders, giving them a good shrug really helps.
2. Strengthening Exercises: Building up your muscle strength to help support your joints is another terrific way of helping overcome stiffness. The joint issues may not go away per se, but by strengthening the muscles surrounding your joints, you can maintain or increase your muscle strength while giving support to your joints. The key here is that you don’t necessarily have to go running to the gym to lift thousands of pounds. Rather, strengthening can also be accomplished through repetitive exercises that can isolate specific areas of your body.
I’ll throw in Yoga as another terrific way to perform strengthening exercises — and there are a lot of focused Yoga movements that you can perform for specific parts of your body in addition to gaining overall conditioning.
3. Aerobic Exercises: The key here is to build endurance without hurting yourself, i.e., my slow jog versus a full-on pounding run (which I can’t do anyway). but you get the drift. Walking, swimming, dancing and our favorite boxing, are great examples of the kinds of aerobic exercises that can improve overall conditioning, keep your cardio in check and maybe even your weight.
The key here is if you’re noticing a slow-down, morning stiffness or other subtle changes you’ll likely want to work at your own pace. If you’re really hurting though, get yourself to a doctor to check out what’s going on. Years of pounding on your body does take its toll even if you are fit and keep to a regular fitness program.
Most of all, have some fun — and if you’re like me, you can get some entertainment out of cracking your knees in time to the music!