Exercise and Arthritis

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

What is Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is by far the most common type of Arthritis, where the main problem is damage to the cartilage. The Cartilage covers the end of bones, it is a rubbery, protective layer that ensures the joints move smoothly.

Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage becomes thinner and rougher, so much so, that bone rubs on bone. Osteoarthritis develops gradually over a lifetime as a simple result of the wear and tear placed on the joint over the years. It particularly affects the joints that get the most use, such as hips and knees. Osteoarthritis can also be a result of previous damage to the joint, like a fracture for example.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in your joints. Joints are covered by a thin membrane known as the Synovium that provides fluid that lubricates the moving parts of the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the Synovium becomes inflamed.

Exercising with Arthritis

Many people with Arthritis are afraid to exercise, believing that exercise will make their condition worse. Whilst it is true that some exercises will make Arthritis worse, for example, exercises performed with poor technique or an exercise that is too high impact, it's important to remember that the body is designed to move and failing to do so can be harmful.

Exercise for those who suffer from Arthritis can be very beneficial. Investing a little time in developing a good weight-bearing low impact exercise and stretching plan can help to stave off arthritis pain. Strong muscles help protect the joints from further wear and tear and movement keep the joints flexible. Motivation can sometimes be an issue, so maybe join a gentle exercise class such as Pilates. Pilates is a great form of exercise for those suffering from arthritis who are nervous about exercise, which they feel they cannot do. Pilates is gentle - it does not stress your joints or add burden to ligaments and cartilage that surround the joints. Another alternative is to join a gym but be sure to tell the health club about your condition so they can provide you with the best exercise plan for you. Walking is always a good exercise, take a good long walk at least three times a week.

Do I need to see my doctor before I start exercising?

It is always a good idea to get medical clearance before starting any exercise programme and your doctor can always refer you to the local health centre on a GP referral scheme as this will ensure you get the correct help. Whichever form of exercise you choose, make sure it is one you will enjoy, and then it will feel less like a chore.

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