Monthly Archives: November 2019

Get moving with arthritis

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis affecting the knees, hips, feet, spine, and hands. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and is caused by the breakdown in cartilage in the joints, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Cartilage is a protein substance that acts as a cushion between bones in joints, allowing joints to function smoothly. Risk factors for OA include a family history of the disease, excess body weight, joint injury, repeated overuse of joint, and age.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Marcy O’Koon, senior consumer health director at the Arthritis Foundation, said: “A joint like the knee joint doesn’t have a blood supply, so it needs movement to swish around the fluids that deliver nutrients to the cartilage and other tissues.”

Sports medicine doctor Gabe Mirkin added: “Exercise should be part of treatment for most arthritis because inactivity increases joint damage. Choose a non-impact sport like walking, cycling, swimming or cross-country skiing, or use exercise machines that support your feet, so they don’t pound the ground.”

Speak to your doctor to determine the best exercise treatment plan for your disease. To help motivate yourself, find an exercise buddy and schedule your exercise into your daily routine. Start with a light warmup, such as stretching and range of motion exercises, to get past the discomfort. Increase intensity or duration of exercise when you feel comfortable doing so. Below are some exercises and tips to consider:

  1. Walking – It is simple, low-impact, and requires no special equipment or facility. Walking helps to build cardiovascular fitness and strength, reduces pain, and improves mood. Consider using walking poles.
  2. Aquatic exercises – Common aquatic exercises include water walking and water jogging. These exercises are low-impact and strengthen many of the same muscles as the land equivalent versions.
  3. Yoga – Helps to reduce knee pain and stiffness and enhance physical functioning. Talk to your healthcare professionals to determine the best yoga exercises for your disease. Avoid doing poses that put too much pressure on one foot and leg or bend the knee too far.
  4. Exercise in moderation – If you are an experienced athlete living with arthritis pain, consider adjusting your exercise routines – going for shorter distances, decreasing intensity and frequency of exercise, or biking instead of running.
  5. Use of exercise tools – Tools such as walking poles, knee braces and cushioned footwear can alleviate the stress and weight on your knees.
  6. Proper preparation – Applying a heating pad or hot pack to your joints or taking a warm shower or bath before exercising can help loosen your muscles and joints. If you plan to exercise outdoor, plan according to the weather. Stay hydrated while you exercise. When exercising in a gym, ensure you know how to work the equipment.

O’Koon’s words of encouragement: “Getting started is tough for people with arthritis, no doubt about it. But once you become consistent, exercise is self-reinforcing, because it gets easier, you lose weight, you gain strength, you experience less pain, and you feel better emotionally.”