Fast Relief from Muscle and Joint Pain! 

exercise technique pain reduction published article safe movement Jun 06, 2021

With winter upon us, stiff and painful muscles and joints can become even more of an issue. 

Cold, wet weather and darker days tend to find us huddling indoors - we become less active, so our muscles and joints can start to seize up. 

If we are inactive or have existing aches and pains from illness, injury or poor posture, our muscles may not move effectively through their full range of motion. Some of our muscles will shorten and tighten, and to compensate, opposing muscles will lengthen and weaken. This can pull our joints out of alignment and lead to pain, discomfort, limited range of motion and joint deterioration. Eventually this can lead to osteoarthritis, where your cartilage, the firm rubbery tissue that cushions your bones at the joints, breaks down and wears away so the bones rub together.  

Often when people feel pain in their joints, they are concerned they have arthritis, and that eventually medication or medical or surgical intervention will be their only option.  It is not commonly understood that muscle imbalance can often aggravate or even be the cause of joint pain and deterioration. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do yourself to help keep your muscles balanced and your joints aligned! 

Self Help Pain Relief 

  • Keep your muscles warm - dress warmly, warm your home sufficiently, and maybe hunt out the heat packs and balms. 
  • Take a lesson from your pets and do some stretches to keep your muscles long and relaxed (more to come on stretching next month). 
  • Exercise to warm and strengthen your muscles and take them through their full range of motion. 
  • Self-myofascial release (SMR) 

What is Self-Myofascial Release?   

This alone can make an amazing difference for anyone suffering from muscle and joint pain. It is a type of self-massage technique where you apply pressure onto “stuck” or “tight” spots in the muscle, usually with a foam roller, hand roller or massage ball. 

Imagine the muscle as a bundle of rubber bands and along the bands knots can develop from injury, health conditions, poor posture, poor movement or repetitive activity or inactivity.  By applying pressure to the “knots” with a roller or ball, holding it still for around 15-20 seconds on a tender spot, you can release the “knot” and instantly relieve joint pain in your knees, hips, neck, shoulders, back and even your hands and feet. 

While SMR is often done rolling your body on a foam roller on the floor, this can be too challenging and intense for many people.  I suggest starting seated with a hand roller or a massage ball.  It is important to roll correctly to avoid aggravation so before you try it check out our video blog “Self Help to Fix Your Knee Pain” 

Written by Marya Hopman – Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, founder of  OptimalMe Fitness and co-founder of seniors exercise providers SuperCue Seniors

As featured in Seasons Magazine's June 2021 Issue

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