Posted - July 10, 2009

Joint Pain and Weight Loss

It can be impossible to contemplate exercise when your joints scream with pain after a workout. For some, the mere act of getting out of bed can cause a simultaneous outcry from their knees and ankles, making working out completely unthinkable. However, becoming more active after bariatric surgery is a vital part of losing weight so finding an activity that allows you to move without joint discomfort is important.

Your joints are under pressure from your weight–whether you weigh 115 pounds or 215 pounds. The more you weigh, the more pressure you put on your joints. When you lose weight, you reduce the amount of pressure your joints have to bear and eventually their soreness will dissipate. Many people experience resolution of pain they have had for many years and even avoid joint replacement surgery by losing weight. The more weight you lose, the easier it becomes to move and the more likely you are to enjoy exercising.

It’s important that you don’t ignore your joints as you try to increase your activity after weight loss surgery. Non-use can result in stiffness, so make sure you try some stretches and underwater activities to keep your joints in shape without the pressure. As you lose weight, you will increase your flexibility which will make working out easier. Remember that it is a process, and remain encouraged that your pain will not last forever.

Here are a few ideas that will help you get moving even if some of your joints are holding you back.

Pool walking: As simple as it sounds, pool walking uses your buoyancy in water to relieve the stress on weight bearing joints as well as adding resistance to simple movements. The size of the pool does not matter so long as the water is deep enough to give you some flotation � say chest height. Then simply walk around.

Water aerobics: once you have been walking in water for a while, you may feel inclined to join a water aerobics group for a more intense workout. You’ll focus on stretching and toning while you stay cool and support your joints.

Walking: Even short walks will help condition your muscles and increase flexibility so, take every opportunity you can find to take a few (or many) steps. The key to walking that protects your joints is to wear good supportive shoes that absorb shock. Walk on level ground and try to stay on soft surfaces such as grass. While beach walking sounds like a great idea, soft sand can be hard on ankles and knees so make sure you time your walks for low tide when there is plenty of firm, level sand exposed.

Light weights: A pair of light dumbbells allows you to perform an almost infinite number of stretching and strengthening exercises at home. Many exercises can be preformed while sitting or lying down to relieve pressure on weight bearing joints. Purchase a DVD or a good book on training with light weights and concentrate on your form throughout every movement to avoid injury. Consider an occasional visit with a fitness coach or personal trainer to ensure your technique is correct and to give you exercises that will support your goal of strengthening sore joints.