Why Arthritis Sufferers Need to Exercise

arthritis sufferers, fitness

If your joints are increasingly stiff and painful due to arthritis, exercise may be the last thing on your mind as you grit your teeth and labor through the day. Yet exercise is one of the best things you can do to maintain the health of your beleaguered joints. Your body is meant to move, and your joints are the gateway to that movement.

At Pennsylvania Orthopedic Associates, our arthritic clients in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, have regained their freedom thanks to exercise regimens that strengthen joints, increase flexibility, and reduce inflammation.

Here’s a look at how exercise can put a renewed spring in your step if you suffer from arthritis.

Move it

As with any machine, the articulating areas of your body need to move in order to retain the ability to do so. Take a bicycle, for example. If you let it sit for any length of time, the chain can stiffen, the pedals turn less easily, and the brakes groan every time you apply them. With a little oil and a ride down the street, everything loosens up and flows more freely.

The same is true of your joints. Arthritis, no matter the type, causes inflammation in your joints, and prolonged inactivity allows the inflammation to settle in, limiting the ability of your body’s regenerative resources to access your idle joints. With a little movement, these resources are activated, allowing them to flow in and reduce the inflammation and increase your range of motion naturally.

Build it up

Whether you suffer from degenerative arthritis, like osteoarthritis, or inflammatory arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, exercise is crucial for shoring up the different components that make up and surround your joints. Most of the joints in your body are comprised of bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and muscles, each of which contributes to the strength in your joint.

A simple strength training routine that builds muscle helps take the pressure off of your joint, allowing your muscles to shoulder more of the burden. And because your muscles are largely unaffected by arthritis, you access the healthier parts of your body to provide support and movement in your joints.

As well, your bones are living tissue and they need movement in order to activate the cells to keep rebuilding and repairing themselves. Exercises like walking or running provide just the signal your bones need to continue these regenerative processes. If you don’t move around, your body registers this inactivity and ceases to expend energy renewing your bone tissue, leaving you with a weakened skeletal structure.

Keep it off

If you suffer from arthritis, you want to lighten the load your joints carry, and a little exercise to lose weight or prevent weight gain goes a long way toward safeguarding your musculoskeletal system. If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, eliminating them through exercise relieves the extra strain your joints are under, allowing them to move more freely.

Bend it

Flexibility and range of motion are extremely important for arthritis sufferers because any loss in these areas can hamper your ability to perform even the most basic daily tasks. If you engage in a simple stretching routine every morning, you can do away with many of these limitations.

For example, simply touching your toes, reaching your arms overhead or out to the sides, and twisting from side to side help you with everything from tying your shoes to reaching for a book in the shelf without your joints objecting.

Get started

The first step is always the most difficult because your joints are in pain. So, take it easy at first and build slowly. If you’re new to exercise, start with some simple stretching and a walk around the block. If you’ve been active and arthritis has sidelined you, don’t jump back into your old routine right away — a little patience can help you strengthen your joints properly, and you can concentrate on one area at a time.

If your joints are too stiff and painful for concussive activities like running, try swimming or an elliptical machine, which do double duty to keep your joints loose while you burn off calories. Small weights, gentle squats and lunges, and resistance bands are also great ways to build support and flexibility.

If you’d like to figure out what exercises can work best for you, please give us a call. We happily work with our arthritis patients to help them restore pain-free movement to their joints. You also can request a consultation using our online booking tool on this website.

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