The link between exercise and arthritis pain
Arthritis is a terribly painful (and painfully common) medical condition that affects joints, particularly as we age. The good news is that regular exercise improves function and mobility while reducing pain. While proper movement and pressure can nourish the cartilage in joints, inactivity can increase arthritic pain and worsen the condition. Lack of exercise causes stiff joints that are malnourished, unlubricated and dry.
How can exercise improve my health without hurting my joints?
Whichever type of exercise you’re performing, you may feel some discomfort at first, but you should start to feel better within a few minutes. If your discomfort doesn’t quickly subside, it may be a warning sign to take it easy. Start with simple, gentle stretches and gradually progress to low-impact activities.
What type of exercises can benefit my arthritis?
Research has shown that regular moderate activity helps prevent the progression of arthritis and improves overall fitness. Fear of pain may cause you to avoid exercise, but it’s important to remember that such inactivity will likely lead to further arthritic pain. People with arthritis should aim to exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Short sessions of exercise throughout the day provide great health benefits, so consider three 10-minute exercises throughout the day if a half-hour workout seems daunting.
Recommended exercises for arthritis include:
• Tai Chi
• Light Weight Lifting
• Water Aerobics
Since joint health is a “use it or lose it” proposition, joint exercises should be part of your regular exercise routine. Common exercises that build range-of-motion include gently straightening and bending the joints with simple stretches. Try these stretches with careful control and proceed only as far as is comfortable. Joints should be stretched gently until normal or near-normal range-of-motion is attained. Range-of-motion exercises not only benefit your joints, they act as important warm-ups for more rigorous strength training and aerobic exercises.
Strength training exercises known for their muscle-building benefits can also help protect your joints. Weight training – under the supervision of a qualified professional – can help you maintain or increase your muscle strength. Remember to rest between workouts and take an extra day if your joints are swollen or painful.
Low-impact aerobic exercises that improve cardiovascular health and help with weight management are also great for managing arthritis pain. Low-impact exercises include walking, cycling, swimming and using exercise equipment such as elliptical machines.
Is there a wellness tool or app that can help me?
If you’re living with arthritis and using doctor-recommended exercises to manage pain, you can track your activity by downloading a mobile fitness app. The Arthritis Foundation developed the “TRACK+REACT” app to help you track your day-to-day activities and improve your overall health. Download the app to start tracking your exercises and reduce the pain caused by your arthritis. Always follow the instructions for exercise machines carefully.
Any exercise is good for you-you don’t need a gym membership
Regular exercise is critical for joint health and arthritis pain management, but you don’t have to join a gym or begin a vigorous fitness regime! Tasks that are already part of your daily routine, such as walking your dog, gardening, or mowing the lawn can help you stay active and reduce arthritis pain. To avoid increased pain, adjust your activity levels as your confidence and abilities grow. Exercise is a healthy and effective way to manage arthritis pain so you can start to feel like your old self again.
Contact Coastal Orthopedics today for a consultation
For more information about the connection between exercise and arthritis, contact the physicians at Coastal Orthopedics to set up an appointment. Call us today at 941-792-1404
or send us an e-mail today for help minimizing your arthritis pain!