The general consensus concerning exercise and arthritis only a few years ago was the opposite of today’s opinions about what helps. It was actually believed that exercise would further damage joints with arthritis. Today, though, all physicians agree that exercise does help arthritis.
It’s well know today that medicine and regular exercise can go along way in helping keep your arthritic joints in good working order. In fact, exercise may even help prevent more damage to the affected joints as you live the lifestyle you love.
Does Exercise Help Arthritis
Even with arthritis in my knees, I’m able to continue the daily activities that make up my life and lifestyle — thanks to a regular exercise program. In fact: Once I started exercising on a daily basis my joints have stop deteriorating at the same pace as before.
The following information in this post is what I’ve learned about what does help me stay active with arthritis without constant pain and soreness in my knees.
3 Main Exercises for Arthritis
I’ve found that I need a balanced exercise program that consist of range of motion, strengthening, and endurance exercises. I’ll try to explain each below and how to get the most out of them, without injuring yourself.
1. Range of Motion or ROM exercises.
No matter what you hear and read, with arthritis, especially in your knees, it seems easier to sit still and move as little as possible, doesn’t it? But the less you move, the more the joints and muscles and tendons that help them operate stiffen up. The less exercise you get, the stiffer you get!
ROM exercises helps you reduce the stiffness and keep your joints flexible. Physical therapist help with ROM, but the best way to avoid your knees and hips from “freezing up” is to keep yourself active with exercise. Check out these tips and exercises for knee arthritis.
2. Strengthening Exercise
You’ll avoid a lot of pain by keeping strong. Increase the strength around your knees and hips to keep them stable and more comfortable. Read this article about knee sleeves and arthritis to add support and stability to knees with arthritis.
There are two primary methods of strengthening exercises for people with arthritis:
- Isometric exercises that strengthen and tighten muscles without moving the joints. One way to do isometric exercises is by tightening and releasing the muscles. You can try tightening the large muscle at the front of your thigh and releasing, and then your butt muscles. Next tighten your calf muscles and release. As you sit in a chair do each leg 10 times and work up to 3 sets of 15 times.
- Isotonic exercises are when you are moving joints to strengthen muscles. This is when you are constantly shortening a muscle or muscle set with a load, such as lifting a weight over and over again. Unless you’re into body building, you don’t need to lift much weight for effectiveness when it comes to arthritis. Just useing 2 or 3 lb weights will get the job done.
3. Endurance Exercises
Endurance exercises are often thought of as means to strengthen the heart, but are great ROM exercises for arthritis. Improve your range of motion, stamina, stay flexible, healthy and pain free with exercises that include:
- Jogging (running)
- Water exercises
- Riding a stationary bike
Getting Started With Exercise for Arthritis
- Check with your physician before starting any exercise program.
- If you haven’t been getting any exercise, start out with flexibility and strengthening exercises and no endurance exercises. Slowly work endurance exercises into the regime. Try starting out with 5 minutes 2 or three times a day, work up to 15 minutes 3 or 4 times a day, before moving on to more vigorous endurance training.
- Pick specific times of the day to exercise, and try different times to find out which works out best for you.
- Do not do your exercises immediately after a meal. If you do them just before bed, you may find that it interferes with your sleep?
- Do ROM exercises everyday, and shoot for endurance training every other day. Schedule both types, because both are important for different reasons.
Tips To Get The Most From Exercise
Before you start
- Apply heat to arthritic joints for 15 minutes. Using hot towels or a heating pad on your knees before exercising will help lengthen and make muscles and tendons limber and flexible. This will help reduce soreness from your workouts.
- Wear comfortable clothing that allows freedom of movement without binding.
- Warm up slowly.
As you exercise
- Don’t get carried away with yourself. Go at a comfortable and steady pace. Remember you’re not a body builder, just wanting some relief from arthritis.
- Don’t forget to breathe. Breathe out as you tense muscles and in as you relax.
- Use this two hour rule to stay safe: If you muscles or joints hurt from the exertion for two hours after exercising, you’ve done too much and/or gone too fast. You need the exercise for arthritis, so just relax, slow down, don’t over do it, and and don’t go so fast.
- If you feel chest pain, dizziness, severe shortness of breath, rapid heart beat, or sickness, STOP exercising!
- Go slow and get a feel for how your own body reacts to exercise. Some increased heart rate, faster breathing, and tense muscles are part of exercising. So, be alert and focused as your body and mind adapts to your new exercise program.
After your exercise
Don’t go from all out to dead stop! Gradually slow down the pace to let your body relax from the work and then spend a few minute doing some very gentle stretching.
Knee stretches and exercises encourage flexibility of the joint itself and the surrounding muscles and tendons. Knee strengthening exercises and a good knee sleeve for arthritis will help build muscle tissue in all the muscles that support the knee.
The Benefits of Exercises for Arthritis
- Less pain and soreness as a result of stronger muscles supporting the joints. As the muscles are strengthened the knee will become more stable, protected from the impact of walking on it, and less prone to more injury.
- Increased range of motion will discourage you from giving up on your lifestyle. With regular exercise the knee joint and supporting muscles and tendons will remain flexible and limber resulting in increased knee function.
- Exercise will support any cartilage you have in the joint. Lack of use of arthritic joints will simply aid in the deterioration of cartilage while exercise will aid in keeping it healthy and reduce inflammation of the joint.