18 exercises to strengthen your joints

Exercise is crucial to building stronger joints, even if you already experience pain. Try these clinically approved exercises for people with joint pain.

It's tempting to give up on exercise when you experience pain in your joints.  After all, you don't want to make it feel worse. But exercise has been proven to support joint health by building and maintaining strength in the supportive tissues around your joints.

Who are these exercises for?

These exercises are designed for people with joint pain. 

They’re simple but effective movements that are recommended by professionals to help build strength in and around your joints without putting extra strain on painful areas.

No matter what your age, if you suffer with joint pain, slowly introducing these exercises into your daily routine will help.

Why joint health matters

As we age, we tend to lose mobility and muscle mass. This means our joints take more responsibility for weight and load bearing. If you already have poor posture, this can add to the pain in your back, hips, lumbar region, shoulders, knees, or neck.

If we aren’t careful, this constant wear and tear can result in the need for replacement surgery later in life. Regular movement and muscle strengthening exercises go a long way towards helping us avoid this.

Simple and effective movements

The good news is you don’t need to lift heavy weights or do hours of cardio to relieve joint pain. Where joint pain is concerned, simple movements and exercises that aim to strengthen the muscles around your joints are most effective.

For some of these exercises, you’ll need a resistance band or something light weight. For others, your body weight alone is fine.

18 expert exercises

The following workout is clinically devised for use by people with joint pain. These six basic exercises each have a progression and a regression (18 exercises in total), to suit your individual level of fitness.

If you find a specific exercise increases your pain, you should find an alternative. A physiotherapist or personal trainer will be able to advise you on the best bespoke exercise plan for you. 

Not in the mood for a full workout? You can view and try any of the six main exercises below.

Exercise 1 - the Squat

Exercise 2 - the Seated Row

Exercise 3 - the Leg Extension

Exercise 4 - the Shoulder Press

Exercise 5 - the Step Up

Exercise 6 - the Stability Challenge

Our free Joint Pain Programme

At Nuffield Health, we’ve helped change the lives of thousands of people suffering with joint pain. Our Joint Pain Programme is a free 6-month course that allows you to work alongside a professional recovery specialist to learn more about your condition and reduce pain and symptoms.

The best thing about the Joint Pain Programme is that it really works. If you’re looking for relief through exercise, the programme is a great framework to structure your long-term joint pain recovery around. You can also learn more about the lifestyle factors that can aggravate and increase your pain in the future.

You can also find more tips on our joint pain advice hub

Last updated Tuesday 24 October 2023

First published on Wednesday 17 October 2018