Stiff joints? Why you should keep moving with arthritis

October 24, 2016 | by Dan Johnson
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people. It can be very painful at times and can lead to major surgery. Exercise, if done correctly, can alleviate pain within the joint to a substantial degree.

Exercise is very important for those who have arthritis. It may be hard to tell yourself to exercise, especially when you’re in a lot of pain or a specific joint is stiff. But adding an exercise program can increase strength, flexibility, balance and decrease pain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can:

  • Strengthen the muscles around your joint
  • Help you maintain bone strength
  • Give you more energy to get through the day
  • Make it easier to get a good night's sleep
  • Help you control your weight
  • Enhance your quality of life
  • Improve your balance

Some may think that exercise and moving makes a joint more painful, however it is the exact opposite. If you do not move and exercise the muscles surrounding the joint, it becomes weak and unstable leading to more pain and stiffness.

The more you exercise and move the joint, the stronger the supporting muscles become, leading to less pain and more range of motion and stability. The first thing that you should do is check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to begin an exercise program.

Some examples of exercises for arthritis are:

  • Range of Motion (daily) – Rolling the shoulders forward and back, swing your arms above your head
  • Strength (2-3x week) – Strength machines, free weights, Thera-bands
  • Aerobic (3-5x week) – Bike, elliptical, swimming
  • Day to Day – Gardening, walking the dog, housework
  • Balance – yoga, tai chi, Pilates

Some things to consider as you start exercising with arthritis:

  • Low impact exercises, such as biking, are your best friends
  • Apply heat to the affected joint before exercising using a heated blanket or hot towel
  • Warm up using low impact cardio for at least 5 minutes and move slowly into your workout routine
  • If you feel a sharp or stabbing pain that is not associated with arthritic pain, stop right away and consult your doctor
  • Ice your joints after your workout for up to 15 minutes

When you begin an exercise program, the first couple days of working out will cause muscle soreness. That is completely normal. After 2 weeks or so, the soreness will dissipate and you can focus on exercising without the pain. Just be conservative with your exercises and do what you can comfortably do.

If you want to lessen your arthritic pain and get in better shape at the same time, just start exercising!

Learn more about arthritis services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Find exercises classes at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.

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