Arthritis is one of the most prevalent medical conditions in the country. Studies show that as many as one in four adults suffers. Arthritis is not one singular condition, but rather an umbrella term for joint pain or disease. People should do the following Exercises for Arthritis in their affected areas:
- This can lead to muscle loss or weight gain, which are further incapacitating
Though arthritis treatment almost always involves the use of pain relievers, it is even more manageable when combined with an exercise routine. Depending on where your arthritis pain is concentrated, you and your doctor can hand-tailor activities to best alleviate symptoms.
Types of Exercises
There are three general categories of exercises that are appropriate for arthritis patients. They include:
- Endurance (AKA aerobic)
- Range-of-motion (AKA stretching/flexibility)
As previously mentioned, there are a plethora of arthritis conditions. Depending on the type, your doctor will advise which of these three will work best to relieve pain and increase mobility—the goal of any arthritic physical training.
Often, the root of arthritis comes from attempts to relieve pain. When someone is experiencing joint discomfort, they habitually bend or otherwise contort the affected area. This is a quick fix that results in worse pain than you started with. Also, depending on the type of arthritis, whether the joint pain is from a disorder like gout or from degeneration, this can be especially harmful.
Luckily, healthcare professionals have structured exercise routines established to remedy this.
Endurance refers to one’s ability to sustain physical activity for a length of time—it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Endurance is built up over an extended period with regular exercise.
But for arthritis patients, it must be a gradual increase, lest they put too much pressure on their joints, which could be very counterproductive.
Some endurance training activities include:
- Walking (can also be a warmup)
- One of the most highly recommended arthritic exercises
- You can walk longer and faster as endurance builds
- Low-impact (less hard on joints)
- Can be done outside or on a stationary bike
- Swimming/Aquatic Exercises
- Submersion into warm water increases circulation and relieves tension
- Buoyancy provides resistance and takes stress off joints
- Using an elliptical machine
- Not recommended for beginners
- High-intensity and low-impact
Remember, you cannot build endurance until you have established foundational strength and the ability to build on it.
These are designed to increase joint support by building muscles that protect and support them. While endurance refers to your ability to sustain exercise, strength has more to do with the capability of performing the exercises themselves. You must have the strength to build endurance.
An assortment of strength training exercises includes:
- Weight training
- Can use free weights or a machine
- Lets you adjust amount of weight (resistance) that is parallel to your capabilities
- Great for core strength and flexibility
- Relieves muscle and joint tension
- Exercises of convenience
- Uses whatever you have available
- Can include using the stairs, pushing a shopping cart, lifting grocery bags, etc.
When doing any type of strength training, use great caution. Trying to lift more than you can handle will cause further damage and impair your ability to perform these actions in the future.
It is recommended that you should not exercise the same muscles two days in a row and that you only participate in strength-building a few days of the week to avoid overexertion.
Last but not least, range-of-motion exercises assist arthritic patients in joint flexibility. Because they often have rigid appendages, even bending your fingers or knees can be arduous.
Most range-of-motion training involves lightly bending and straightening joints to the extent of comfort. Over time, flexibility can increase until normal or almost-normal mobility is achieved.
Range-of-motion training through stretching should also be used before other types of arthritis-geared exercises, and a lot of them can be done at home. Some ways to practice these exercises are:
- Tai chi
- Involves an array of slow-moving positions (prevents overextension)
- Can target specific areas of concern
- Trains several areas at once (spine, legs, hips, and arms)
- Feels easier because it is also a recreational activity
- Curling and uncurling exercises
- Can be done anywhere, anytime, on any part of the body
- Convenient in their simplicity
- Even clenching and releasing your fingers can be hugely beneficial
Again, when performing range-of-motion exercises, do not push yourself to the point of discomfort—this will reverse any previous progress.
To sum it up, exercises for arthritis patients can use a wide variety of training activities in conjunction with medication to help alleviate their pain. These include endurance, strength, and range-of-motion exercises, and it is easy to adjust them to fit your specific needs.
Be sure to work closely with your doctor and/or physical therapist to assure that you are doing the right things for your body. By doing this, you can have a life with as little pain as possible.
Justin Stewart is a frequent collaborator with Senior Planning. Senior Planning is a long-term care service dedicated to seniors and those with disabilities.