January is Thyroid Awareness Month

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Exercises for Joint Pain

Alleviate the discomfort of hypothyroid joint pain with these low impact movements.
Exercises for Joint Pain

For some people, a thyroid condition may be the culprit of their aching joints, weakness, and tenderness. Possible symptoms of a thyroid disorder include joint pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling. 

Hypothyroidism dramatically affects your metabolism, or how your body converts food into energy. If your thyroid levels influence your metabolism, it will likely play a role in how your muscles feel. Similarly, hypothyroidism has been known in some cases to cause fluid in the joints. This fluid can result in a host of unpleasant joint symptoms. 

The research also suggests that joint pain during menopause may be somewhat coincidental, as midlife women are also at a higher risk for inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis. 

Joint stiffness may result from overlapping variables. For instance, research suggests that if you have an autoimmune condition, you have a higher chance of developing another. So if you have Hashimoto's disease, you may be at risk for a condition like rheumatoid arthritis. 

Similarly, hypothyroidism disproportionately affects women in their midlife who may also be at higher risk of inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis.

If you experience joint or muscle pain, it is a good idea to visit your medical professional. 

Exercise, including aerobics, strength training, and stretching, is a great way to increase mobility and decrease joint pain. The movements and suggestions below will help you to become more flexible and find some relief for your joints. Before beginning any exercise routine, consult with your physician.  

Low-Intensity Aerobics

High-intensity exercises, especially those with jumping and jarring movements, can be hard and painful on your joints. Stick to low-intensity activities such as walking or even riding a bike. Another great aerobic option is swimming or pool-based fitness classes. 

The water resistance will provide you with a great workout, as well as being gentle on your joints. Some exercise is better than no exercise, so whatever amount of physical activity you can take part in is beneficial. 

Strength Training

Strengthening your muscles will allow them to provide stability and support for your joints, easing discomfort. Start slow as your balance and form may not yet be that great. In the beginning, it can be helpful to perform exercises with only your bodyweight before moving to dumbells or weighted objects. 

Consider trying squats or lunges for the knees, leg lifts for your hips, and gentle arm circles for your shoulders. Slow and short repetitions a few days a week are great for beginners. 


Yoga can help build muscle without using weights. It can also improve your balance and posture to maintain joint health. Additionally, it can be quite relaxing. When you are stressed, you are more likely to hold tension in your joints; this could lead to aches and pains. 

There are many different types of yoga practices. Beginners might want to try a slower-paced yoga style, such as a restorative flow. As you improve, you may want to take on a slightly increased-paced practice such as Hatha. 

Specific Movements for Joint Pain



Place on hand on the top of a table or sturdy surface that is about hip height. Let the other arm dangle as you lean slightly forward. Begin moving the hanging arm in small, slow, circular motions (like a pendulum). The circles can become more significant as your joint relaxes. Complete on both sides. 


Begin on your knees in front of a bench or even the couch. Place one arm straight out in front of you in line with your head and neck. "Thread" the other arm underneath the extended arm across your chest. Gently lean into the shoulder of the arm across your chest. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

Shoulder Flexion

Begin on your knees in front of a bench, couch, or elevated surface. Extend both arms out in front of you in line with your head and neck. Look down towards the floor and slowly press your chest towards the ground. Hold for 15-30 seconds.  


Knee Lift

Lie on your back on the ground or another firm surface. Lift one leg and grab just below your knee with both arms. Gently pull your knee into your chest, keeping the other leg as straight as possible. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

Double Hip Rotation

Lie on your back on the ground or another firm surface. Bring both legs up and into a ninety-degree position so that your thighs are perpendicular to your torso. Slowly lower both legs to one side, trying to keep your shoulders and upper body on the ground. Hold for 15 seconds and drop your legs to the other side, holding and then return to the center. 


Hamstring Stretch

Stand on one foot, hold onto a wall for balance if necessary. Place the other foot out in front of you, heel on the ground, and toes up. Slowly lean forward at your hips towards the lifted toes of your outstretched leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

Calf Stretch

Stand facing a wall about six inches or so away. Place the toes of one foot about three to four inches up the wall, so you are resting on your heel. Gently lean towards the wall, you should feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

Quad Stretch

Stand on one foot, using a wall for balance if necessary. Reach behind you with one arm and grab the ankle or toes of the foot on the same side (right arm grabbing your right ankle). Gently pull your heel towards your buttocks. Press your hips forward and do not round your back. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

Full Body

Cat/Cow Stretch

Begin on all fours on the floor or a firm surface. Slowly move into the "cat position" by rounding your back, roll through your spine, and draw your hips up while moving your chin towards your chest. Then gently move into the "cow" pose by pressing your hips and belly towards the floor and looking up towards the ceiling. 

You can also return to a flat-backed position, or neutral, and begin to move through cat and cow in a circular motion. Swinging your hips and chest to the side and coming up into cat, then down into cow as you swing the other way. Slowly perform circles in a clockwise direction, then change to a counter-clockwise direction. This movement variation will stretch your shoulders, spine, and hips. 

Taking part in a variety of aerobic exercise, strength movements, and stretching techniques will help to strengthen and support your joints, increase mobility, and decrease pain. 

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