Arthritis is a joint disorder where inflammation causes pain and impedes the use of the joint. However, giving the joint long periods of rest will certainly worsen it. On the other hand, regular physical activity helps strengthen joints, and controls swelling. Keeping your joints mobile is the key to keeping them healthy. That said it is vital to take precautions before exercising arthritic joints.
Warming up is essential, and applying heat to the effected areas readies them for use. This is because heat helps synovial fluid flow and lubricates the joint. Activities as simple as stretching and walking are great for warming up.
Taking it slow is also important, the more time you put in readying the joints for exercise, the more it will benefit them. For example, starting with range-of-motion movements before strengthening exercises reduces the risk of inflammation and pain after the routine.
Know your limits, and stop when you feel pain. Gradually increasing the workout’s intensity is the idea, to help achieve normal movement again. Not following a plan can actually worsen the joint, instead of protecting it from damage. As said above, take things slow and be conscious of what you are doing for your joints.
When walking, pay special attention to pronation (the rolling of your foot inwards to help absorb the impact) and footwear that helps with shock absorption. Ice helps ease the joint after the workout as well.
Arthritis affects people in different ways and exercise routines will be prescribed as per your specific needs. The following are a few exercises ideal for the treatment of arthritis.
Range-of-motion exercises help reduce stiffness throughout the range of motion of the joint by simply moving your limbs though their range. This gently compresses and decompresses the cartilage, stimulating repair. Please note that you can overdo even these simple exercises and overstretch your joints if you try them every day.
Strengthening exercises get your joints ready for normal use my building muscle strength around them. The right workout will improve muscle strength, and helps reduce weight, thus minimizing the pressure on joints throughout the body. Weight training can be painful though, and many move to Isometric exercises, which are not as taxing. For example, to strengthen shoulder muscles, hold a dumbbell in each hand and raise your arms parallel to the floor. Holding the stance used in the exercise (feet shoulder width apart and knees bent slightly) is more important than sheer lifting.
Aerobics develops cardiovascular fitness and fitness in general. Walking and riding a bicycle is advised for many arthritis patients, as they are low impact exercises that can easily be performed regularly. Aquatic aerobic routines, in specially heated pools help combine the benefits of aerobics and warmth.
The exercises mentioned above are best performed under the supervision of a physical therapist. He/she can judge joint movement, muscle strength, and can adjust the workout as per your specific needs. The therapist will help you fight fatigue and deconditioning, and will prescribe activities that you will be able to perform within your daily routine.
Arthritis can be fought, and it is best to get support when tackling its symptoms.