The Importance of Staying Active with Arthritis
Physical Therapy, Sports Medicine
If you’re suffering from arthritis, maintaining a regular exercise routine can help ease your pain and delay the progression of the condition.
When symptoms flare up, many arthritis sufferers abandon their exercise routines out of concern that the activity will aggravate their joint pain and stiffness. In fact, the opposite is true. Staying sedentary can actually worsen the symptoms of arthritis, while moderate exercise can alleviate its effects.
What Causes Arthritis?
Standard arthritis arises when your joints become inflamed. In the case of osteoarthritis, it arises when your cushioning cartilage wears down and causes the bones in the joint to rub together. Arthritis is often a natural result of aging, but the condition can also result from a congenital defect or trauma. Joint pain (especially after activity), lack of mobility, and a grinding or cracking sound when the joint moves all typify the onset of arthritis. In severe cases, the joint may become contorted.
Why is it Important to Stay Active with Arthritis?
Understandably, such symptoms may dissuade arthritis sufferers from participating in an exercise routine. However, staying physically active comes with important health benefits that may actually help mediate the effects of the condition.
Here are six important benefits of exercise that can help patients cope with arthritis symptoms. It can help you:
1. MAINTAIN JOINT FLEXIBILITY AND MOBILITY
Regular movement keeps your joints lubricated and mobile — and it can improve range of motion. Arthritis patients may want to try flexibility exercises such as lifting their arms above their heads and rolling their shoulders backward and forward. Stretching exercises that promote mobility can also ease joint stiffness.
2. INCREASE MUSCLE STRENGTH
Strengthening the muscles surrounding the compromised joint can protect it from further deterioration. Weightlifting, using resistance bands, and yoga are all great ways to increase muscle strength. However, working the same muscle group for two days in a row is not recommended. Instead, patients should rest between workouts to allow their bodies time to recover.
3. IMPROVE BALANCE
Arthritis sufferers sometimes feel unsteady on their feet. To prevent falls, they can improve their balance by practicing yoga or tai chi. Other balancing exercises include standing on one foot or walking backward in a straight line.
4. LESSEN DEPENDENCE TO PAIN MEDICATION
Anti-inflammatory and opioid medications in addition to corticosteroid injections are sometimes prescribed to alleviate the pain of arthritis. But an exercise program that emphasizes flexibility and muscle strength can also reduce pain in a natural way. That can, in turn, reduce the need for regular medication.
5. PROMOTE PROPER CIRCULATION
Exercise not only boosts joint mobility and strength, it also revs up the body’s circulatory system. Physical activity rushes blood to the affected joints, flooding them with oxygen and nutrients. This increased blood flow can improve patients’ mobility and even promote healing in the joints affected by arthritis.
6. PREVENT FUTURE INJURY TO JOINTS
Perhaps the best reason for those with arthritis to keep exercising is to prevent further damage to the joints. Inactivity can allow the condition to progress to a point where a person’s quality of life may be severely diminished. On the other hand, exercising delays that progression as strong muscles provide support to affected joints.
Best Exercises for Arthritis Sufferers
The best exercises for arthritis sufferers are those that avoid excessive strain on the joints. Aerobic activities such as swimming, water aerobics, walking on smooth surfaces, or pedaling on a stationary or elliptical bike all fall into this category. During exercise, patients should remember to keep movements slow and steady. They should also slow down, modify their routine, or take a break if the joint swells or is extremely painful.
The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Arthritis Sufferers
Physical therapy is also a great way to stay active safely for those who suffer from arthritis. Your physical therapist can work with you to determine the best exercises for your specific condition and show you how to engage in those exercises safely both within and outside of your therapy session.
Start Exercising Today!
Arthritis shouldn’t stop anyone from exercising and enjoying an active lifestyle. If you’d like further guidance on how to exercise with arthritis, consult one of the physical therapists at All Sports Physical Therapy by booking an appointment. Contact us today to get started!