Stiff joints? Why you should keep moving with arthritis

February 23, 2021 | 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 sometimes 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 motivate 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. Specifically, exercise can:

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

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 your joints, 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, TheraBands
  • 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 five 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 few days of working out will cause muscle soreness. That is completely normal. After two 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! 

The orthopedic team of experts at Edward-Elmhurst Medical Groups Orthopedics provides exceptional orthopedic, sports medicine and podiatry services for patients of all ages. We use the least invasive treatments necessary to help you get back to the activities you enjoy, as quickly as possible.

Learn more about arthritis services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Find exercises classes at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness. Our Fitness Centers have measures in place to keep you safe in the gym during the COVID-10 pandemic.

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