Finally the chill of winter is disappearing and you can spend time outside again! Spring is a great time to get back outside and kick-start your exercise routine.

See how you can make a heat pack that you can use to ease muscle soreness post-exercise. Watch: Video: How to Make a Moist Heat Pack

But just like Mother Nature needs to gradually warm the days, so should you return to outdoor activity gradually and wisely to avoid injury or joint pain. These tips can help you get moving this spring without any mishaps.

See Does Cooler Weather Affect Your Joints?

Warm joints with heat therapy

A heating pad or toasty bath can be comforting or help ease muscle soreness after exercising. Applying heat for 10 minutes after a workout session or activity like spring cleaning can help increase blood flow to the muscles and help them return to their normal state without seizing up.

See When and Why to Apply Heat to an Arthritic Joint

In addition to providing post-workout comfort, using heat therapy before you exercise has surprising benefits too. The increased blood flow warms up the muscles and helps them be flexible and ready to move.

See 9 Easy Ways to Apply Heat to an Arthritic Joint

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Stretch and warm up/cool down

Just like with heat therapy, stretching can provide exercise benefits both before and after physical activity.

See Exercise Helps Relieve Fibromyalgia Symptoms

People with arthritis often need additional time to warm up, and should plan on 10 to 15 minutes to do so. Warm-up activities can include gentle range-of-motion exercises, walking, or marching. Spend a few minutes doing the same type of activity as a cool-down after your workout.

See Ways to Get Exercise When You Have Arthritis

When you stretch, focus on the major muscles of your body, such as the hamstrings. Those with arthritis can also benefit from stretching the muscles adjacent to their arthritis-affected joint(s). This provides better support for the joint and more flexibility. This guide to knee stretches and shoulder stretches can give you specific examples to try.

Warm up joints and muscles by stretching before you start exercising. Read: Knee Stretches

Don't shortchange your sleep

As the days change in length and daylight hours expand, it can disrupt your sleep routine. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and being well rested can boost your energy for exercising (which in turn can help you sleep better). To stay on the right track with getting quality sleep, follow these tips:

  • Follow a sleep routine. For example, unwind with an evening ritual, avoid watching TV or browsing the Internet in the bedroom, and go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Keep it cool and dark. Create a sleep-friendly environment by using curtains and a fan or the thermostat to make your bedroom cooler and darker than other rooms in the house.

See Getting the Sleep You Need With Fibromyalgia

For more tips on getting a good night’s sleep, consider these therapies for treating insomnia.

Keep moving—even when you're not exercising

It’s easy to get wrapped up in a task or activity at work or at home and stay in one position too long, causing stiff muscles and aches. You can keep joints flexible—particularly arthritic ones—by making it a point to move them regularly:

  • Get up and move every 30 minutes. Every half an hour, make it a point to walk around the house or office. You don’t have to go far, just spend a minute or two being active.
  • Stretch while you sit. If you’re in a meeting or otherwise can’t get up for a stroll, you can still do subtle stretching and flexing exercises. Reach your arms up above your head or roll your feet up on the ball of the foot or back on the heel repeatedly.

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