Exercising with arthritis can be tricky. On one hand, you want to keep moving to benefit your joints; on the other hand, you don’t want to accelerate the damage to your joints.
Exercise is often part of arthritis treatment. It can relieve pain and ease stiffness, even slowing the progression of the disease by building muscle strength and decreasing wear-and-tear on the joints.
However, to reap its benefits and to ensure safety, you have to do it correctly. It is for this reason why arthritis patients should consult an orthopedic doctor, who will prescribe physical therapy to guide them through specific exercises to meet their health goals.
Below are some exercise tips from an orthopedic doctor for people with arthritis.
Choose Gentle, Low-Impact Exercises
Exercises should not be high-impact to benefit arthritis patients, as those are hard on the joints. Low-impact exercises that do not stress the joints as much are just as effective. Physical therapists usually teach gentle strengthening and range-of-motion exercises to arthritis patients. Strengthening exercises build stronger muscles that provide support and stability to the joint. Range of motion exercises relieve stiffness and improve range of motion. The physical therapist may use hand weights, bands, and an exercise ball for strength training and balance.
Physical therapists also prescribe aerobic exercises for cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, and using an elliptical machine are low-impact and help with improving your stamina and energy.
It is important not to overdo exercises as you would not want to harm your joints. If you are feeling sore two hours after exercising, you were probably doing strenuous exercises.
Try Doing Yoga
Yoga is one example of an arthritis-safe exercise that leverages your body weight. It focuses on gentle stretching movements in forward bends, backbends, balancing, twisting, and standing, sitting, and lying poses that build strength and improve pain levels, flexibility, function, mobility, and mental health.
Early studies have shown yoga to benefit joint health, physical functioning, and well-being. In a large clinical trial of yoga for those with arthritis, it was found that it was safe, feasible, and enjoyable for people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Improvements were noted in pain, balance, and upper body function. Moreover, after completing an eight-week program (with yoga sessions twice a week), patients still felt the positive effects of yoga in physical function nine months later.
Use Heat and Cold Therapy
Before you exercise, apply heat to the joints and muscles to help with pain and to relax. Use warm towels or take a warm shower before engaging in exercises. After exercising, apply a cold pack to the joints to help control any swelling.
Orthopedic Doctor in Little Rock, AR
If you have arthritis, you need an exercise program that is safe, effective, and helps reach with your health goals. At Bowen Hefley Orthopedics, we offer a superior physical therapy program for our patients, all in the same location as our clinic. Our licensed physical therapists have extensive experience treating patients with arthritis. With our highly individualized programs, we help improve your mobility, strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, speed, and endurance.
Our physical therapy programs are overseen by orthopedic surgeon, Dr. William Hefley. If you have any questions about our physical therapy services or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hefley about your joint problem, call our clinic today at (800) 336-2412 or use our online appointment request form.