9 Early Warning Signs of Impending Joint Pain (and How to Stop It)

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Our body is constantly communicating with us, letting us know when something is about to go wrong. Once we know how to listen, we can learn how to stop joint pain (and other aliments for that matter) before it happens.

Written by: Coach Todd

Imagine you’re driving along on a highway when suddenly, a cloud of smoke covers your view — the engine is smoking and you know something major is wrong. At first, you feel like this new problem came out of nowhere, but then you quickly remember that you have been ignoring that nagging red check engine light for the past few days. 

Just like your car doesn’t normally breakdown without a few warning signs first, joint pain also does not appear overnight. 

When it comes to your body, it is constantly communicating with you — whether you decide to listen to it or not can either lead you to living a life with minimal pain or struggling with limitations. 

The first step to preventing joint pain is discovering what those warning signs are and realizing how they can easily be addressed.

Here are 9 early warning signs your body is on the road to joint pain, and the prevention tips to help you steer yourself in a better direction.

How to stop joint pain | Feel Good Life with Coach Todd

Feel Good Life - Coach Todd

Muscular Weakness Is The Giant Flashing “Check Engine” Light For Joint Pain

How to stop joint pain | Feel Good Life with Coach Todd

This is one of the strongest warning signs our bodies have. Study after study shows that muscle strength is directly correlated with better joint health and a decrease in joint pain.

If our muscles aren’t getting stronger… they’re getting weaker.

And our joints become more susceptible to pain and injury as a result.

How Can You Fix It?

Start with isometric exercises! Isometric exercises are simple static (aka minimal movement required) exercises and provide a gentle way to strengthen our muscles to steer clear of joint pain.

By contracting our muscles around our joints, isometric exercises have proven effective in not only strengthening the muscles but also supporting the overall function of our joints so goodbye joint pain! 

Feel Good Life - Coach Todd

Compensating For Weaknesses Or Injuries Can Lead To Unnecessary Joint Stress Over Time

Maybe you use your arms to push yourself up and out of a chair because your knee feels stiff or you have to arch your back to grab things from the cupboard because your left shoulder is tight from an old injury. 

These are both instances of compensation  because you aren’t using your joints the way there were intended. This can lead to joint pain.

How Can You Fix It?

Once you are aware of how you are compensating, you can work to correct the movements.

With the first example above, you should work on exercises that help loosen up your knee so you are able to use your lower body to push up to standing.

For the second example, you would work on stretching your shoulder so you can restore range of motion to reach up in the cupboard helping to prevent your risk of lower back pain.

Strengthening or stretching the areas that you are compensating for is key to avoid new pain in other areas of your body aka address the root cause for compensation. 

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Misalignment Quickly Leads to Unnecessary Force On Healthy Joints

How to stop joint pain | Feel Good Life with Coach Todd

When your spine is in proper alignment, the entire body is in balance, and the central nervous system is able to communicate between the body and the brain.

Spinal alignment on it’s own is important, but you must remember that it starts with the feet.

A study found that a 5% misalignment in any joint in your lower body or back can add 80-90% stress on the joints.

How Can You Fix It?

Starting at the ankles, finding the right shoe can be helpful. Good shoes provide a supportive base that helps the spine and body remain in alignment. Talk to your chiropractor or local shoe retailer to find a shoe to prevent overpronation or supination — or too much rolling of the foot to the outside or inside.

Another way you can prevent or address misalignment is by keeping your lower body strong. Check out my 8-week calisthenics program to guide you through a full-body strengthening routine.

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That Tenderness You Feel In Your Muscles Can Actually Add Up

Those tight knots we feel in our low back, shoulder blades, or legs are actually fibrotic tissue aka tough tissue that builds up over time. If it’s not addressed, the tissue can impinge on your nerves in your body, causing pain and joint dysfunction. 

How Can You Fix It?

It’s time for some self-care! Indulging in a massage can really help this issue and get into those spots you might not be able to reach.

A professional massage not in the budget? Self-massage is a great tool too.

Lightly massage the area of tenderness and surrounding muscles with your fingers or a tennis ball for at least a minute. This will help break up the fibrotic tissue and restore full joint mobility. 

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Because Of Chronic Stress, Our Muscles Stay Tense Even After The Stressor Is Gone

How to stop joint pain | Feel Good Life with Coach Todd

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and consciously relax your shoulders. Did your shoulders drop a bit? That’s means there was residual tension in your neck. See, your muscles are designed to tense and relax. Unfortunately, because of chronic stress, our muscles stay tense even after the stressor is gone. 

This tense feeling you have in your muscles is different than tenderness because it isn’t caused by fibrotic tissue — it is caused by factors outside of the body.

How Can You Fix It?

Spend a few minutes each day doing a technique called active relaxation.

Lay on your back or in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and slow your breathing. Start to focus on a body part that feels tense and image it relaxing. Once the tension is gone, move to another body part until you are fully relaxed.

Deep breathing techniques can also aid in the relaxation of overly-tense muscles. Find time throughout your day to take 3 deep breathes. 

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Bad Posture, While Similar To The Misalignment Of Your Spine, Puts Immediate Stress On The Joints

Did you just sit up straight reading that title? While misalignment is very subtle, poor posture is quite noticeable and can start having instant effects on the joints. 

How Can You Fix It?

The overtness of bad posture can actually be used to your advantage! Consciously and actively working on improving your posture is a simple step to reducing excess stress on your joints.

Start now! Try reading the rest of the article while sitting tall.

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Move It Or Lose It When It Comes to Joint Mobility

How to stop joint pain | Feel Good Life with Coach Todd

Our bodies were meant to move. Lack of movement cuts off blood supply which is a critical need of the cells inside your joints.

And while earlier I mentioned that isometric exercises help ease joint pain tremendously, we still need movement to create proper blood flow and nutrients to your joints.

How Can You Fix It?

Get up and move!

Here is a trick I use for my self: Simply set a timer — I prefer an app called Focus Keeper— every 25-45 minutes as a reminder to take a walk or stretch for 5 minutes. 

Make sure to prioritize activity in your life, from a walk around the block, or playing with your grandkids. It all counts!

Feel Good Life - Coach Todd

Waking Up With Morning Muscle Or Joint Stiffness Should Not Be Ignored

Ever wake up and feel like it takes you a full 5 minutes before you’re fully able to stand up?

While for some this may just be tiredness, for others this is stiffness due to overworked joints or muscles. This is similar to compensation, but you’re actually moving your body correctly — just too much.

How Can You Fix It?

You need to be mindful of the repetitive movements you are doing throughout your day.

Are you consistently squatting down in the garden? Are you repetitively going up and down the stairs?

When you figure out which tasks you are doing repetitively throughout your day, learn to combat them with gentle stretches.

After spending time squatting in the garden, be sure to do some hamstring stretches, This is helpful because your are moving your knee in the opposite direction of which you just held it in.

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Finally, Lack Of Range Of Motion Can Mean Joint Pain Is Near 

How to stop joint pain | Feel Good Life with Coach Todd

Ideally, your joints should move through their full range of motion. However, when we don’t take care of them or use them to their fullest range, they lose their full function.

When you do go to move into that range of motion you haven’t been using, you can easily cause joint pain, or worse, injuries.

How Can You Fix It?

Performing daily range of motion exercises, like the stretches in this article, can help keep your joints and muscles working through their fullest range, so you never lose the ability to reach overhead… squat down with your knees… and so much more!

Don’t wait for the smoke to show up on the highway… By looking out for these 9 warning signs, you can mitigate the risk of your body breaking down over time. 

Just like you regularly give your car oil changes, but sure to do the same for your body.

It’s never too late!

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