Generally speaking, exercise is very good for treating and preventing joint pain. However, if you are doing high-intensity forms of exercise – including the exercises often included in boot camp workouts – you could end up causing joint pain if you are not careful.
Lots of people push themselves a little too hard during boot camp classes or do exercises with improper form. These common mistakes put a lot of pressure on the joints and lead to damage and inflammation.
The good news, though, is that joint pain does not have to accompany these kinds of workouts. In fact, there are lots of things you can do to protect your joints and ensure they remain healthy while you workout. Some of the best steps you can take to protect your joints during boot camp fitness classes are listed below.
Do not Skip the Warm-Up
Everyone should be doing a thorough warm-up before any kind of workout. But, people who are prone to joint pain especially need to make warming up a priority. Your warm-up helps loosen up the muscles and joints and reduces your risk of injuring yourself.
Most boot camp fitness classes include a warm-up at the beginning of the workout. Make sure you arrive on time so that you can participate in it.
If the warm-up at the beginning of your particular class is not as thorough as you need it to be (meaning you still feel stiff or tight when it is over), you may also need to arrive early to do some extra warming up on your own.
Wear the Right Shoes
Proper footwear can make a big difference during boot camp fitness classes and other intense workouts.
Wearing the right shoes will help give you proper ankle support. Good shoes will also help you avoid injuries to your knee and hip joints. Remember, everything in the body is connected, and it all starts with the feet.
Look for a pair of shoes that provides a sufficient amount of cushion and stability. You need plenty of shock absorption, especially when you are running and jumping, so make sure you do not buy a pair that is too flat.
Vary Your Exercises
Boot camp fitness classes are a great form of exercise. But, they probably should not be the only form of exercise you do. They can place a lot of stress on your joints, especially if you are participating in them multiple times per week.
Try to vary your workout schedule so that you alternate between low-impact workouts and more intense boot camp workouts.
Good low-impact workout options include:
- Pilates; and
Taking breaks from boot camp workouts and swapping them out with these other forms of exercise gives your joints a break and gives your body a chance to recover and repair itself.
Strengthen the Muscles Around the Joints
If you want to avoid joint injuries like jumper’s knee or elbow hyper-extension, it is important to work on strengthening the muscles surrounding the joints.
For example, if you want to protect your knees, strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. If you want to protect the elbow, strengthen the muscles in the forearm, biceps, and triceps.
Strong muscles also help support the joint and promote stability to reduce your injury risk.
Use a Brace
If you have dealt with joint injuries in the past, you may want to wear a brace designed to support that specific joint while you workout.
In addition to providing support, braces also help you move your joint through a proper range of motion and provide compression to promote faster recovery.
There are braces designed for just about every major joint, including the knees, ankles, shoulders, wrists, and elbows. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist to find out which type of brace is best for your particular needs.
Use Nutrition to Reduce Inflammation
Finally, make sure your diet is comprised of foods that reduce joint pain and inflammation. The following are some good foods to consume regularly:
- Fatty fish (sardines, salmon, tuna, etc.);
- Antioxidant-rich produce (leafy greens, berries, apples, etc.); and
- Healthy fats (avocados, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, etc.).
You can also add extra flavor with anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and ginger.
Consuming these healthy, anti-inflammatory foods can help, but it is also important to avoid foods that cause inflammation, such as sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.