Boomer workout: the joints that must be worked

By Wina Sturgeon /

Adventure Sports Weekly (adventuresportsweekly.com)

Three major joints in the body have to be strengthened by everyone over the age of 50. Otherwise, growing older will be a miserable experience.

You probably already know that a joint is where two bones meet. Something else you may know: bones are connected to each other by dense white tissues called ligaments. Muscles are connected to bones by thick tendons at each end of the muscle. As we get older, these white tissues tend to contract, or shrink. This makes the joint stiff and harder to move, limiting its range of motion.

It would be great if all mid-agers worked on stretching and moving every joint in their body three or four times a week. Everyone would be more flexible. Tissues would be pliable and easy to move. There would be less pain and far fewer injuries. But even with all the benefits, few folks will have the discipline to do it.

However, if you work on just three joints every other day, it will help your vigor and flexibility, no matter what your age.

The three joints are shoulders, knees and ankles. If you wish to walk with a youthful spring, moving around without pain or limitation, you need only a few easy exercises, each of which can be done at home. Here they are:

Shoulders

The shoulder is the most mobile and complicated joint of the body. It pushes, pulls, lifts and rotates.

Strengthen and extend your shoulder range of motion by placing hands at shoulder level. Lift your arms above your head and bring them back to your shoulder. Next, with hands at shoulder position, push the arms straight out in front of you and pull them back. Follow with arms at your sides; lifting them out and up to shoulder level.

Finish by holding your arms out to the side and rotating them, first in small circles, then larger ones as your strength increases. Do each movement five to 10 times, depending on the difficulty. As it become easier, do the exercises while holding a pair of one to two pound dumbbells.

Knees

Most knee exercises can be done in a kitchen chair. While sitting, raise one leg in the air, keeping the knee very slightly bent. Hold for one minute, or until your leg tires. Repeat with the other leg. Next, lie on your back and lift your legs up. Alternately bend and straighten each leg at the knee. Finally, using a stair or a low sturdy bench, step up and step down, first with one leg, then the other. An aerobic step, which can be purchased at most sporting goods stores, is perfect for this exercise.

Ankles

Sit on the floor for the ankle strengthening exercises. Grab a towel at each end and place your foot in the middle, keeping your leg straight. Hold the towel ends tightly and press your foot forward while pulling back on the towel. Turn your foot to each side and press hard against the towel. Use enough force so that your ankle joint has to really work.

— Adventure Sports Weekly (adventuresportsweekly.com)