Switch It Up — Your Joints Will Thank You
Happy Friday and start to your Memorial Day weekend! Today’s blog is dedicated to providing you with some alternatives to traditional exercises that you may have been avoiding, whether they cause joint pain or just seem too daunting. You can do them at work throughout your day or at home to increase activity and improve your fitness level. Plus, they will increase blood flow, helping to keep you alert and focused throughout the day, particularly if done around that mid-day slump. Start slow and with a low number of repetitions, and as you get stronger, progress to the next level of exercise!
A traditional squat will have you stand with your feet just slightly hip width apart, weight evenly distributed in each foot, and have you lower slowly to about a 90-degree angle or just further, finishing the move by driving through your heels and standing upright again. If this movement bothers your knees or hips, try one of the below modifications to still work major muscles in your lower body (glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps):
1. Chair squat: Placing feet slightly hip width apart while sitting, slowly rise to a standing position, squeeze at the top, and slowly lower back to your chair. As you progress, try to barely graze the seat before standing back up, and work your way to lowering to a hover over the seat without actually sitting. Try a few sets of 5-10 reps throughout your work day.
2. Wall Sits: Placing feet slightly wider than hip width apart, lean against a wall and slide down the wall until legs are in a 90-degree angle, making sure knees are not going over toes (if this is the case, slide feet out a little further from wall. Try to hold this position for 15-20 seconds, repeat a few times throughout the day. As you gain strength, try to hold the position longer, say 30-45 seconds.
The starting position for a push-up will have your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and in line with your chest on the floor, with toes about hip width apart and your body in a straight line. The goal is to lower down until your chest touches the ground, engaging your chest, triceps, and shoulders. However, if this is a bit challenging for you right now due to strength or shoulder pain, try one of the below modifications:
1. Modified push-up: Place yourself in a standard push-up position with body in a straight line, and then simply drop your knees to the floor, making sure your back and rear are still in a flat, straight line. Start with a set of 5 reps, and work your way up to 10 or 15 or doing multiple sets a day.
2. Wall push-ups: Begin in a standard push-up position, simply using the wall instead of the floor as your base. Your hands will be on the wall, chest height and slightly wider than shoulder width. The further away from the wall you place your feet, the more strength you will need to do the movement. These are easy to do at the office, in work attire…do 5-10 reps multiple times throughout the day.
The plank is a wonderful core exercise that engages both your abs, lower back, and shoulders. The problem is that many find it too difficult to hold and so avoid it all together. Below is a modification to help you build to the traditional form.
1. Modified plank with knees: For this movement, you will actually start in a modified push-up position but with elbows on the ground and palms clasped in front of you on the ground. The goal here is to keep your body in a straight line from shoulders to knees, making sure your rear and back are not sagging or raised high in the air. Try to hold for 15 seconds to start and build to 30-45 seconds. Listed also, is the modification for a side plank which focuses more on your obliques (abdominal muscles along your sides):
While most would say they have a love/hate relationship with this exercise, there is no denying that it is a fantastic total body exercise for both your muscles and cardiovascular health. The traditional version involves jumping into a plank position from standing, doing a push-up or flop to the ground, jumping back to a standing position, and finally jumping in the air as high as you can with arms reaching towards the sky. If this sounds too daunting, the good news is that you can modify this at any portion of the move.
- Remove the jump from the final portion of the move and simply raise your arms overhead before going back into the next rep
2. Rather than jumping into a plank, squat down and place hands on the ground, shoulder width apart, then step each leg back to a plank position, and then back to hands, and stand back up.