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Pain Free Movement in 2013: Who Wants In?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Joints that are Pain Free, Born Free, Live Free, Stay Free

To move and exercise pain-free–That’s one of my huge desires for 2013. Who else has that hope? Yet certain baby boomer joints just don’t want to cooperate, darn it anyway!

Green plants, native plants, and a butt plant

Green plants, native plants, and a butt plant

Lately I have been more and more frustrated with the fact that my knee and foot issues are preventing me from working out as often, intensely, and comfortably as I want. The optimist in me is convinced I will wake up one day and discover that my left knee has forgotten it ever had two surgeries. As a result, my right foot would then decide it no longer has to compensate for that knee by bearing the impact brunt in a painful manner.

Fortunately, I am still able to  teach fitness, walk my dog, and engage in lots of activities (though lunges and snowboarding are now out barring some medical or aging miracle).  But I definitely worry about limited days or types of action. Ahhh, to enjoy high impact aerobics again! And I feel the pain. Nevertheless, I persevere in trying solutions, solutions I want to share with you in case you are experiencing similar joint pain.

A combination of factors helps me continue going for the gusto in my beloved step classes, on powerwalks, and in all forms of dance and cardio classes. If you are also suffering from joint pain and want to stay or become more active, try the following. Let me know if any of my strategies work for you. For sure speak up if you have found other ways to move pain-free with each added year of an active life.

One set of shoes for walking; Sport specific shoes for fitness classes

First and foremost, get shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and designed for each exercise mode. Don’t follow trends; follow your medical or fitness professional’s advice and your own body. I invest in several pair of workout shoes, and wear them only for the designated activity. I fully embrace my boom chicka boomer status at this point and care more about pain-free movement than fashion, style, and low cost. Vive la TheraFits when it comes to my fave walking shoes!


Confession time: I pooh poohed orthotics for years, advocating fixing movement patterns instead. A youthful biomechanics snob was I. Experience (code word for “joint pain”) has taught me that even good form, attention to footfall, and body awareness can’t totally fix my foot problems. Orthotics are taking the pressure off my arthritic big toe, which makes me hopeful I will avoid the toe surgery my sister had for this same problem. But now I have new pains in the pad of my foot. The gait shift from the orthotics may be the culprit. Or the savior. I am still experimenting with the orthotics. Any tips?

Looking for pain in all the right places

Looking for pain in all the right places

Supplements for Joint Health

I’m currently in the first month of a two month trial of Pure Matters Joint Health supps. At first it seemed as though the supplements were not making much of a difference. I believed they would work miracles; I wanted them to be the magic pills; yet my knee still hurt. Maybe I expected too much. Then I neglected to bring the tablets with me on a 2 day trip and boy, did my knee hurt – a lot!. You bet I raced back to the tablets before teaching advanced step yesterday. Yes, my knee felt better. This stark comparison makes me hopeful that joint supplements do provide some relief, albeit subtle at first.  More on the Pure Matters Joint Health effects in another month or so.

Strength Training for Supporting and Surrounding Muscles

No surprise that I advocate and abide by having strong muscles to bear as much load and impact from exercise as possible. The stronger my core and lower body, the more I can count on muscles and less on joints and ligaments to power me through activity.

Pool Classes

I hate being cold and wet. Don’t you? So I get into pools only when both the water and air temp are toasty. Or when my joints scream after mountain hikes like a slipped fan belt. ( I LOVE hiking and powerwalking except when every step hurts). When at Rancho la Puerta I hiked every morning, then hopped myself into several aqua classes as I really, really, really wanted to exercise without holding back.  Ignoring the pain was not really working any longer as an option. (Forgot to mention that the “ignore” solution has been one of my go to strategies for years.)  While I prefer land classes, I gotta give full props to aqua classes as the place to plunge in for joint protection while working out hard and heartily!

Cranial Sacral Therapy

Rock Star as I Live Free, Stay Free!

Rock Star as I Live Free, Stay Free!

Bring on the mind/body healing modalities! Suffice to say that you’ll be reading more in a future post about the Cranial Sacral Therapy sessions I took while at Rancho la Puerta. Spoiler alert – my knee pain has gone down a bit since then. Will more sessions help more? Can this modality actually realign my knee, foot, and gait and bring them back to their pre-soccer injury condition? Hello knee from my twenties! Good-bye aging joints! Stay posted as I seek out a few more CS sessions.

Where does that leave us? Combining all of the above has allowed me to keep on keepin’ on. No solution alone seems enough. Is it unrealistic to believe I will again be pain free? I really want to do MORE with the rest of my life, not less.

Makes me think of the song Alexandra and I sang in a talent contest at age 10 — Andy Williams’s hit, Born Free. Verse one went great as we wooed the judges in our matching wool plaid skirts and knee socks. We were soooo cute, if our mom did say so herself. Born Free, as free as the wind blows.

Then came the painful part. One of us went with “Stay Free” as verse two; the other launched with “Live Free.” Twins fighting, then laughing hysterically onstage in the middle of our song did not make for a big talent win. Or place. Or show. Ahhh, good times!

Is it too much to ask that my joints Live Free and Stay Free, as free as the roaring tide. Life is worth living, especially worth living if it’s Pain Free! Who’s with me on this singalong?

Dear Readers: Have joint issues changed your exercise life? If so, what strategies have you put into action in order to stay active?

Free yourself in 2013 with action that will help you live free:  Subscribe now to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. Please share and subscribe!


About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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25 Responses to Pain Free Movement in 2013: Who Wants In?

  1. Miz January 17, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    annnd I will be singing borrrrn free all day.
    the living painfree? I HOPE IS COMING TOO.
    Miz recently posted..Blog post titles you’ll never see…My Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit January 17, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      From my typing fingers to your head. Stay Freeeeeeeeeeee! Pass it on!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Walk Your Way to Weight Loss, Health, and FitnessMy Profile

    • Jackie January 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

      Great post! Seems like process of elimination to determine what your body reacts to and what feels good. Of course, what feels good, you may pay for in recovery time. I am a big supporter of alternative treatments and sugar injections for arthritis and hot pads after workouts in lumbar area, epsom salt baths for joints etc. for dealing with pain. I love your suggestion of aqua therapy. So far, pilates has changed my life and my body for the better, ofcourse.

  2. Ericka @ The Sweet Life January 17, 2013 at 4:36 am #

    I’ve been having some major knee issues lately. It forced me to stop training for my spring marathon. I took over a week off of running (a lot for me) and./…it’s still there. It’s super frustrating nd came out of nowhere. I even trained and ran for 3 marathons lst year with NO issues! Anyway, it’ snice to know others are dealing with it and you make some good suggestions! –Ericka @ The Sweet Life (
    Ericka @ The Sweet Life recently posted..#Twitter Talk & a BIG Step!My Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit January 17, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      Given that you are still young, go with strategy #790234 – address any biomechanical issues and subtle movement patterns of misalignment now, while you can. Have you videotaped yourself running from front, back, far, close? You may surprise yourself by spotting a habit that is creating the knee problems. I wish you a total recovery. Then you can run by my house and say hi!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..3 Exercises You Never Have to Do Again after 2012My Profile

  3. Dawn @ DawniesLife January 17, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    After struggling with knee problems in the past this blog certainly helps, thanks for all of the suggestions, I am bookmarking this one, starting training again soon and this will come in handy!
    Dawn @ DawniesLife recently posted..A Fun Way to Lose Weight and Win Money!My Profile

  4. Tamara January 17, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    I’ll be curious to read your report on the supplement. My left knee is definitely not what it used to be! All those lunges and step aerobics! I have many clients who will be interested in reading this post! Thanks!
    Tamara recently posted..Favourite music to exercise to? Share and share alike!My Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit January 17, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      I am curious too! Here’s hoping the supplements have a cumulative effect that sends the love into my joints more and more with each passing day! Now to get over the jaw drop at how many (young) people have pain and exercise issues!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted.. Boomer Time and Anytime – Double Time!My Profile

  5. deb roby January 17, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    Three joint surgeries (hallux rigidus, torn shoulder labrum, hip replacement). I’d say that my joints have affected me. I still carry on.

    What I do:

    Foam roll and stretch. Give myself a standard 15-20 minute of warm up movements before I start my real exercising.

    Watch my reps/sets. I’ve switched it up to lifting HEAVY with fewer reps. Gone are the days of 15 reps for 3 sets. Instead, it’s 1-5 reps for 3-5 sets. The volume of work I do is a lot smaller, but the intensity is the same.

    Yoga or water classes every other day. I strength train 4 days a week, and do yoga or water the other 2-3 days. Sometimes I just straight out rest.

    Noticing those movement changes and correcting them quickly.

    Eating my vegetables. We will feel better when our bodies are in a more alkaline state. Yet proteins and grains make us more acidic. and more achy. So I take in enough greens throughout the day to try and keep the body more on the alkaline side.
    deb roby recently posted..Getting to the OM… Meditation AppsMy Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit January 17, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      Well dang, Deb but you are loaded with things that me go “hmm.” Or as Winnie the Pooh says “think, think, think.” Love it! I am motivated to try a few of your ideas. I don’t even have to dust off my foam roller if I take it into the water with me!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Is Wheat-Free Better for You?My Profile

  6. Sarah @ Semi-Sweet January 17, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    I feel your pain. Literally. I was dx’d w/psoriatic arthritis when I was 30 – and although I have a mild case of it, joint pain has been a part of my daily life ever since (I’m 43 now) . . . I’ve tried all the things you mention except for supplements – and even taking great care, sometimes I’ve over-done and have to take some rest time. I LOVE hard exercise. Used to run – no more for me.

    You mention aquacise – one of my favorites over the years have been deep water running – have you tried this? GREAT for those of us who long for a killer w/o but can’t bear the impact. Get yourself a floaty belt, some webbed gloves, and get in the deepest part of the pool. Mimic running, swish those hands back & forth (increased resistance w/the gloves) and feel the burn. Many gyms have classes – that’s how I got into it initially – literally couldn’t stand up & exercise b/c my arthritis was so bad.

    Lately, I’ve tried something else which has brought amazing results – cutting gluten out of my diet. I’m almost 3 weeks gluten-free and my joint pain is nearly gone. Gluten can cause inflammation, and I’ve been reading for years on inflammatory arthritis message boards that people have gotten relief, but I generally pooh-pooh cutting entire categories of food from my diet. I read William Davis’ _Wheat Belly_ over Christmas and decided to give this a go. This has been the most remarkable “fix” to date. Never thought I could do it (I’m a gluten-y food lovah), but this lack of pain makes it worth it. Just an idea – may not work for everyone, but it’s an easy thing to try for a few weeks, no?

    Cheers to pain-free movement!
    Sarah @ Semi-Sweet recently posted..A Loss (and Leftover Turkey Soup with Lemon, Barley & Kale)My Profile

  7. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf January 17, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    I will now be singing that song the rest of the day. Thanks for that :-)

    Honestly, I’ve been so frustrated with my body and joints this past month. Things hurt and aren’t getting better. I’m not bouncing back as quickly before. I’ve rested and tried other therapies to no avail. Really, I just want to be better and not have to think about every move, twist or turn. My husband keeps insisting that it’s because I’m getting older but I refuse to believe it. But we’ll find a way, right? Here’s to a healthy and pain-free 2013 and beyond!!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Hey JealousyMy Profile

  8. kim January 17, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Yep to supplements for joint health. Same as what you related – its not magical, but its better than not at all. The minimal experimentation I performed on myself resulted in a cocktail of glucosomine sulphate, chondroiton sulphate, calcium w/ manganese and MSM. Couple of knee ligaments are close to gone, so I resist lateral movement and am quite good at that now, although it exacerbated the turned out placement of my foot and thus the need for the right footwear. Sheesh, this gets complicated!
    There seems to be a linkage between meat eating and joint pain, but I didn’t want to do that particular science on myself. Just fish these days.

  9. Jody - Fit at 55 January 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    FANTASTIC POST!!!!! Yes, as a boomer, I get it! Luckily I don’t have all your issues BUT I have my feet issues that my Hoka OneOne running shoes have solved for now. I LOVE them. Like you, better to wear them even if not for the running activity if they save my feet & joints. I wore them for leg days for months even though they were totally not right for leg day BUT I could walk & do my exercise! :)

    I am taking Chondroitin/ Glucosomine/msm & have found it makes a huge difference. Started it back when I thought I needed a hip replacement due t pain & all that pain is gone & never went off it! :)

    I do use overpronator over the counter orthotics for my feet but I may need something more eventually.

    I can’t wait to read you future posts!!!!!!! Eager to learn more!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..I am HOT with NO Apologies! And a Apology too! ;) Read on!My Profile

  10. Mary McManus January 17, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    I would add another strategy – a yoga practice .:) and body work is critical to helping with joint pain. You might want to consider KMI Structural Integration Anatomy Trains which helps to change habitual patterns of movement so you can experience movement with greater ease and less pain. Love to you both! Oh no did I just do a spoiler for my guest blog post?

  11. Calla Gold January 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Being pain free makes a world of difference. Great tips you’ve offered, and all the helpful comments people have left, too.

  12. Dr Lynn K Jones January 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    I have heard before about pool exercises being very good for your joints, good to see that you agree as well.

  13. Cathy May 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    I found this article interesting because I suffer from arthritis pain, joint pain to be exact. Sometimes people think that the only remedy is a doctor. However, I am learning as I get over 50 that there are indeed natural remedies such as herbs that are very helpful.

    A combination of exercise, proper dieting are very important of course, but we can’t underestimate natural cures and remedies either as many people find great relief from them.

    Just as this article states, try going on a natural remedy and they going off of it and you will see that the remedy is actually helping you more then you think!


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