Supplements vs. Exercise for Joint Pain - Which Is Better?

Joint pain can make the simplest tasks a grueling ordeal. Just getting out of bed in the morning can be a struggle.

Naturally, individuals with chronic joint pain want to find the most effective ways to manage and reduce their discomfort. The market is chock full of supplements that claim to provide instant relief. At the same time, many fitness advocates argue that the best way to reduce stiffness and pain in joints is to exercise daily.

So which one is it? Are you better off stocking up on pain-relief supplements at your local drug store, or should you sign up for a gym membership instead?

Let’s take a look and see which option is more effective.

Get Moving!

While the natural reaction to joint pain is to limit movement, the opposite is necessary for reducing discomfort and preventing further deterioration.

Studies indicate that exercise is effective in reducing joint pain, particularly knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. 

Individuals who partake in regular aerobic exercise experience higher levels of walking ability and function, while those who participate in strengthening exercise attain an increased range of motion.

In addition to aerobic and strengthening exercises, stretching exercises can significantly impact joint pain by increasing the range of motion and lubricating joints. 

The Best Exercises for Joint Pain

Here are a few exercises that will help manage and even reduce your joint pain:

Aerobic Exercises

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Using an elliptical machine

Stretching Exercises

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Heel and calf stretch
  • Quadriceps stretch
  • Hip flexor stretch

Strengthening Exercises

  • Straight leg raises
  • Clamshells
  • Calf raises
  • Bridging

The Best Supplements and Nutrients for Joint Pain

Not every supplement on the shelf can deliver on its promises of drastically reduced pain. However, supplements containing certain nutrients show a great deal of promise in relieving joint stiffness and pain.

Look for supplements containing the following ingredients:

  • C-1 Digestible Collagen
  • Selenium
  • Boswellia
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger

In addition to keeping an eye out for the above nutrients, choose supplements that are organically sourced and don’t include lots of unrecognizable, multi-syllable items on their ingredients lists. You want a product with as few chemicals and artificial ingredients as possible; try to stick with supplements derived from natural ingredients.

Supplements = Shortcut?

There’s a reason supplements aren’t called “replacements.” They are intended to supplement (add to) the benefits of a healthy diet and any medications prescribed by your physician, not to take their place.

Supplements alone are not the answer.

Before incorporating any supplement into your daily pain-management regimen, make sure to consult your doctor.

It’s Both/And, Not Either/Or

The answer to the “supplements vs. exercise” question is both. The best program for combating joint pain and stiffness incorporates exercise - aerobic, stretching, and strengthening - with supplements derived from natural, effective ingredients.

When paired with any medications and activities prescribed by your doctor, a combination of exercise and supplements can help reduce and control your joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness.


Joint pain is no joke. It can make life more difficult daily. Luckily, with a regular regimen consisting of exercise and supplements, you can manage your pain and prevent it from curtailing your enjoyment of life.

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