Arthritis is one of those especially frustrating conditions wherein relief is found through the very thing that causes you pain — moving your joints — but the outcome is well worth the effort.
As arthritis robs you of your ability to move freely without stiffness or pain, it’s imperative that you find ways to continue to use your joints in order to maintain strength and flexibility. Because May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, the team at Douglas J. Abeles M.D. & Associates put together seven great tips for exercising with arthritis for our patients in Castro Valley, California.
1. The joint trifecta
When it comes to aging joints succumbing to arthritis, you need to work to maintain three things: strength, flexibility, and range of motion. By putting effort into each of these areas, you can minimize the impact that arthritis has on your life, getting you back to enjoying the activities you love.
As an added bonus, and to really motivate you, a good exercise plan may help you avoid joint replacement or other invasive procedures.
2. Check with us
Before you get started, we encourage you to come in and consult with Dr. Abeles to determine which exercises can benefit you the most. Your body is designed for movement, but when arthritis strikes, you need to be mindful of not aggravating the problem.
To help you find the perfect middle road, Dr. Abeles reviews your case and makes appropriate suggestions that address your lifestyle and your goals. These recommendations may include some of the following.
3. Say ohm
One of the best exercises for arthritis sufferers is yoga. A little bit of yoga does wonders for maintaining flexibility and range of motion as it works to stretch your soft tissue. Yoga also works to strengthen the muscles that surround your joints, taking the pressure off these beleaguered areas.
Yoga is a low-impact exercise that doesn’t tax your joints by adding concussive forces. And it’s also a gentle way to stretch and flex your joints. You can find yoga classes for every level, which allows you to start slowly and gradually increase your strength and flexibility.
As if the benefits of yoga aren’t already apparent, the practice also encourages relaxation, balance, and de-stressing, things anyone can benefit from in today’s fast-paced world.
4. Hit the water
Another great form of exercise for arthritis sufferers is water exercises. Half of the battle when it comes to your joints is relieving the constant pressure they’re under, giving them a chance to heal and for the inflammation to go down. Water workouts free your joints from their normal supportive duties, allowing you to strengthen and flex them without the added pressure.
Try calling your local gym or community center to find out about water aerobic or exercise classes in a nearby pool. Or hit the beach this summer and use the ocean as your gym.
5. Give it a lift
Arthritic joints are inflamed and irritated, so adding forces that further irritate them is never a wise idea. If you want to keep hitting the gym, take a break from the treadmill for a while and opt instead for lifting weights or using gentler exercise machines.
Weightlifting allows you to build strength in the muscles that surround your joints, shouldering some of the burden. You can also use elliptical machines that keep your feet firmly planted.
6. Walk it out
Your bones are living tissue that can regenerate as long as they’re in use. One of the best ways to let your body know that it should continue its restorative work is to add exercise that creates some concussive forces, but not so strong that your joints suffer.
Instead of pounding the pavement for a run, try simply walking. Walking is a great way to exercise, especially if you keep a good pace and add in some hills. A good walking workout keeps your joints moving, strengthens your bones, and does wonders for your heart health.
7. Don’t overdo it
The key to exercising arthritic joints is to not overdo it. Start any exercise regimen gradually, adding intensity or duration as your joints become stronger and more flexible. If you come out of the gate too quickly, or too hard, you risk injuring yourself, which can sideline you for a lot longer than your arthritis ever did.
If you want to explore how to fight back against your arthritis through exercise, call Douglas J. Abeles M.D. & Associates, or use the scheduling tool on this website to book an appointment.