When Joint Pain Keeps You From Exercising

Exercise can help with joint pain and improve movement and overall health, but when someone experiences joint pain, their general response is to stop doing that particular activity. If you experience joint pain, you may be afraid of making the pain feel worse or creating a future injury. This can lead to a cycle referred to as fear avoidance. As you avoid a particular activity or movement, you experience increased weakness, which can lead to even more pain. The end result is negative: a vicious cycle of debility/disability.

Fear Avoidance Cycle
Fear avoidance cycle

To break this pain cycle, it’s important to continue to move the joint in a way that is safe and pain free. The body was made to move! Moving the joints through pain free ranges is a safe way to help return that joint to full movement. As movement is regained in the joint, you can add in strengthening to the range of motion to build strength and endurance. This leads to less pain, increased strength, a more active lifestyle and improves overall well-being!

It’s important to make sure you exercise correctly, ensure appropriate joint alignment and not push through pain, especially if there is an injury history.

Pain Free Range of Motion

Rather than getting caught in the cycle, keep moving forward and return to a more active and enjoyable way of life. Think of your new experience with exercise like this:

Range of motion chart

Always check in with your primary care provider before beginning a new exercise program. If you experience pain or don’t feel comfortable with your movement, speak to your primary care provider or physical therapist. They may recommend specific active range of motion exercises and gentle stretching to start.

Don’t let chronic joint pain keep you from doing what you love. Find an orthopaedic specialist today.


imageBryon Renwand, PT, DPT, CSCS, works with ProMedica Total Rehab and received his Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science from the University of Toledo, where he also received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy. For his full bio and other articles, please click here.