Make exercise part of your treatment plan.
If you have arthritis, physical activity may be the last thing you feel like doing. The pain, stiffness, and swelling associated with arthritis often limit your range of motion and leave you feeling fatigued and depressed.
But inactivity can lead to muscle loss, weight gain, and tighter joints.
Depending on what kind of arthritis you have, your physical therapist or physician can help you develop an exercise program that includes three or four types of exercise: range-of-motion, endurance, strengthening, and hydrotherapy. The combination of these exercises will help relieve symptoms and improve one’s quality of life.
How can these exercises benefit those with arthritis and how do you do them?
Though you may not feel like moving with arthritis, the benefits are usually well worth the effort. When living with arthritis, the right type of exercise may increase joint mobility, improve muscle strength and flexibility, help you maintain a healthy weight to lessen pressure on your joints, protect joints from additional damage, keep your bones and cartilage strong, and improve your endurance and overall fitness level.
Many people find arthritic pain relief by keeping the affected joint bent, whether hands, fingers, or knees. A bent joint may bring temporary relief, but keeping a joint held in the same position for long may eventually cause permanent loss of movement or worsen the condition to the point that you’re no longer able to perform normal daily tasks.
Range-of-motion exercises are also called flexibility or stretching exercises. These exercises work to counteract the desire to keep one’s joints bent. The goal of these exercises is to keep joints functioning as normal as possible by improving flexibility and joint mobility.
By gently straightening and bending each of your joints, you’ll help preserve their normal function. Straighten and bend your joint only as far as you can without discomfort. Each session you may be able to straighten and bend more until a near-normal range of motion is achieved. Then these exercises will help to maintain your mobility.
Flexibility and stretching exercises are also used as a warm-up for your strengthening and endurance exercises.
Another important type of exercise to include in your arthritis treatment is strengthening exercise. These activities work to keep your muscles strong. When you have strong muscles, you’re better able to support weak joints and protect them from more damage. Isometrics and isotonics are two types of helpful strengthening exercises.
Isometric exercises improve muscle strength without requiring you to bend your painful joints. In these exercises, your muscles get a workout by flexing and relaxing.
Isotonic exercises involve joint movement and are usually done with by increasing weight resistance with dumbbells or stretch bands.
A third type of exercise recommended for those with arthritis is endurance exercise, also called aerobic or cardio exercise. Endurance exercise leads to increased stamina, strong muscles, and weight loss—all three which will reduce pressure on joints. Endurance exercises are those that get your heart rate elevated and your blood pumping. Start out slow, but work your way up to 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
As you enter the world of endurance training, find an exercise that places the least stress on your joints. Good options might include walking, bicycling, tai chi, or swimming. Hydrotherapy, or aqua therapy, is also a great option. An exercise program that takes place in a pool, hydrotherapy is designed for those with painful joints or other medical conditions.
Since arthritic pain often comes and goes, be careful not to overdo it on your good days. Avoid any high impact activities such as running or jumping, and listen to your body. If a specific exercise makes your problem worse, find what works for you and stick with it.
If you live in the Gilbert area, treat yourself right by calling or emailing today to get started on an exercise program that will change your life for the best.
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