If you’re living with arthritis, we don’t have to tell you how frustrating it can be to live with the aches and pains of joint stiffness.
Those moments of feeling like the unoiled Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz when we wake up may grow more frequent as we age, but there are things we can do to reduce pain and stiffness in our joints.
But first, before we get into the exercises that can help loosen you up and strengthen your muscles, let’s take a deeper look into what this condition is and what it can do to the body.
What is arthritis?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age.” There are two different types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis (where your cartilage between your bones breaks down) and Rheumatoid arthritis (where your immune system attacks and causes inflammation around the joint).
How does it affect your body?
The most common symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, or swelling of the joints—all of which can cause a decrease in your range of motion.
When a joint and its surrounding muscles are affected by arthritis, or if a joint has been replaced, it often impairs coordination, positional awareness, balance, and can create an increased risk of falling.
Having arthritis can feel like you’ll never move again, but that’s the thing with the body—if you stop moving it, it is always more difficult to get in motion again.
What can you do to reduce the effects?
Exercise! It is always important to exercise within your level of pain tolerance, but in order to build up muscles around our joints, we have to get moving! Exercise is crucial for people with osteoarthritis and regular arthritis; it increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and combats fatigue. Not exercising can make your arthritis worse!
Here are some other benefits that exercise has for those with arthritis:
- Helps maintain bone health and bone strength
- Increases your energy levels throughout the day
- Helps you sleep at night
- It enhances your quality of life especially into the later years, better day to day function
- Improves your balance
It’s important to find the right strength program that both works within your abilities and pushes you to build up your muscles to reduce joint pain. You want to be working hard enough in the gym that you feel the effects, but not so hard that you injure yourself and cause further damage to your joints. It’s about feeling the burn in your muscles—not sharp pains!
Not all fitness programs accommodate those with arthritis, so it’s important to find one that fits your comfort level. Our trainers have years of experience tailoring programs to fit your needs. After each exercise and each session, our trainers adjust your program so you get that perfect balance of feeling like you’ve accomplished big things in the gym, without the big aches and pains on your rest days.
Workout out the aches and pains
When you’re exercising with arthritis, consider these tips:
- Make your movements low impact. Activities like running can cause the joints further pain if the muscles are not built up around them. Opt for low-impact machines like the exercise bike.
- Go slow! Especially if this is your first time in the gym for a while, start off slow so you do not injure yourself. If you try to jump into things too quickly, your movements may hurt and cause you further damage.
- Talk to your doctor and trainer. It’s important to talk to a professional, like the trainers on our team, about the types of movements that can help you build muscle around your joints without injuring yourself. Our trainers are all educated in the mechanics of the body and know what will work best for you.
- Schedule in your workouts when you’re least likely to be inflamed. You know your body best, so work with it and book a time that works best for you and your body.
If you’re looking for ways to get started, check out these three simple at-home exercises, you can do NOW:
Still nervous to start?
lf you’re just getting started and are still feeling a bit stiff about the idea of working out, we understand. You don’t want to injure yourself and cause further pain, and we don’t want that either! It’s essential that you find a professional to guide you through your workouts so that they are both safe and productive. We’re here to help!
Our 6 Week Stronger For Longer program is a great way to get started with us, simply click here to learn more
Or click here to book a phone call where we can answer any questions you may have.