Exercising With Osteoarthritis
By Donna Stark
Your doctor tells you, your spouse tells you, your friends tell you, your children tell you. Heck, even people on social media that you really don't even know tell you. And you hear them, you really do. You completely understand their messages, but at the same time, you just wish everyone around you understood where you are coming from as well. Because exercise hurts. And not for anything, but you would definitely be at the gym every single day if you weren't suffering from osteoarthritis.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is commonly known as degenerative joint disease. It is a condition that occurs when the cartilage in the joints wears away and the bones it serves to protect begin to grind against each other. It generally affects the knees, hips, fingers, and toes, but some patients can also experience osteoarthritis in the neck and shoulders.
Along with the "wearing away" of the cartilage, bits of bone may also break off, causing pain, swelling, and inflammation. It's easy to see how physical activity can hurt and why exercise is often (but mistakenly) avoided.
Exercise is Key
While most people who suffer from osteoarthritis feel that exercise should be avoided, the opposite is actually true. Regular exercise improves the function, stability, and mobility of your joints. You just have to choose the right exercises if you have osteoarthritis. Here are some suggestions.
- Swimming - Swimming is an excellent option because there is zero impact on the joints while you are in the water. It's a great way to increase your heart rate, burn some calories, and possibly lose a pound or two without suffering from any pain.
- Bicycling - Cycling is another low-impact exercise that is wonderful for joints as well! Plus, it's fun! Just 30 minutes a day of having the wind whip at your face is enough to improve joint mobility while also increasing your stamina, strength, and cardiovascular fitness.
- Walking - Although it may sound painful, walking is actually really good for the body's joints. Be sure to start slowly, choose appropriate footwear with good arch support, and wear comfortable clothes though. A 30-minute walk every day will do wonders for you!
Exercises to Run Away From
Even though you already know what hurts, it's still good to review the types of exercise you should stay away from. Avoid the following high-impact workouts as much as you can.
- Skipping rope
- Extreme hiking
- Sports such as soccer, basketball, and football
Get Moving, Safely
Creating a fitness routine that combines the exercises above can let everyone know that you hear them, but more importantly, it's a great way to stay healthy and fit while also reducing the levels of pain you have experienced in the past with workouts that weren't ideal.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Chino Hills, Calif.