How Arthritis Affects Your JointsThere are more than 100 types of arthritis, and more than 50 million adults suffer from one or more forms. If you have arthritis then you’re well aware of the symptoms: swelling, pain, and stiffness. You know they can fluctuate daily from mild to severe. And you know there’s a good chance your arthritis pain will increase over time. Taking over-the-counter or prescription painkillers can temporarily put a lid on the pain and swelling, but it doesn’t slow down the progression of the disease. If anything, a medication-only approach to arthritis can result in more pain and swelling because pills don’t stop your bones and muscles from weakening over time. As your bone density decreases and your muscles atrophy, your arthritis pain will intensify. This is a dangerous path that can lead to more or stronger painkillers—even surgery. Only exercise can stem pain and prevent the pain progression that’s typical as arthritis progresses. Here’s how…
How Exercise Improves Joint HealthYour bones and muscles are comprised of millions of cells each. Your body is in a constant state of shedding and regenerating cells. But sometime in your 30s or 40s, your body began regenerating these cells at a slower rate than during your younger years. As a result, your muscles shrink and your bones become weaker. Your body needs help regenerating these cells to
- Gives you more energy throughout the day
- Helps you sleep better
- Helps you control your weight
- Relieves stress
- Improves your overall balance
How to Start Exercising Away Your Arthritis TodayWhen I talk about exercise to my arthritis patients, they often say to me: “That may be true, but how can I even start exercising if my joints hurt so bad?” It’s a great question and the answer is a surprisingly simple one: Start with easy, low-impact exercises and gradually increase the duration and intensity of those exercises. “Low-impact” exercise doesn’t necessarily mean less beneficial to your body. All “low impact” really means is that the exercises are not as rough on your bones and joints as high-impact exercises. Anything that involves sprinting and jumping can be considered a high-impact exercise. Low-impact exercises give you a good workout without pounding and jarring your bones and joints. My favorite low-impact exercises are swimming, biking, walking, and using an elliptical. Swimming is by far the best because it’s a full cardio and strength-training workout. The water provides a natural form of resistance that builds and tones muscles without an ounce of impact. Biking is great for knee-and-ankle arthritis because you are working most of the muscles that support your legs – and with minimal impact. Daily walking keeps you limber and mobile while keeping arthritis pain at bay. While walking is low-impact, the constant repetition could further inflame your knees if you aren’t careful.
Daily MotionIf, even these low-impact exercise seem like too much. Try starting with these extra-gentle daily motion exercises. They’re an excellent way of dialing back pain all over your body.
- Raising your arms over your head
- Extending your arms out and making small circles with your hands
- Rolling your shoulders forward and backward
- Moving your feet in circles
- Touching your toes (or as far as you can go)