By: Tatiana Britton
Exercise and arthritis can feel like a catch 22, sometimes. You’re in pain when you’re trying to exercise but if you don’t continue moving you will really pay for it. It’s important that those with arthritis know that exercise is crucial! At this point, we know the benefits of regular exercise (and if you don’t, feel free to browse our many other blog articles) but there are a multitude of benefits when working out with arthritis.
Immobilizing the areas affected by arthritis will only result in magnified symptoms and eventually loss of strength and mobility. Exercise increases strength, flexibility, mobility, reduces joint pain and combats the fatigue associated with arthritis. However, for many it can be scary to start an exercise routine when dealing with the joint disorder. Good news is that many fitness coaches, like myself, have extreme experience with clientele dealing with arthritis and can prescribe you the right exercise protocol.
Below are a few recommendations regarding exercising with arthritis. These recommendations are simply recommendations. It is important that any individual considering exercising with arthritis consults their doctor or physical therapist for appropriate exercise plan(s).
Stick with low impact exercise.
These are exercises including stationary bikes, recumbent bikes, ellipticals, low-impact strength training, swimming and aerobic exercises.
Workout in the afternoons/evenings over mornings.
Climate can play a role in timing of your workouts – colder mornings than afternoons/evenings can result in stiff joints. Also, working out too early in the morning may not allow adequate warm up and movement prior to exercise. This means stiffer and more painful joints during exercise. This isn’t to convince anyone with arthritis that exercise in the mornings is BAD, but it is something to be aware of.
Heat before and ice after.
Before exercise, apply a hot pack, have a warm shower or a warm compress on joints. This should be an appropriate temperature, one that is not scalding or burning. After exercise (even without arthritis) inflammation will occur. Icing will bring down inflammation and alleviate potential irritation that is felt post-exercise.
Don’t skip your warm ups and cool downs.
Preparing your body for the upcoming movements is vital in keeping the body safe from injury. As mentioned, if working out in the morning, this warm up becomes even more important. After the workout it is important to cool down and perform static stretches. This will continue to improve mobility, flexibility and limit the risk of injury and pain.
Listen to your body!
No two people with arthritis experience the same symptoms. Two people may have arthritis in their knees but experience much different levels of pain. After speaking with your doctor, pay attention to any movements that do not feel right for YOU and move slowly. Pay attention to different levels of pain, as this could mean something more serious is occurring than solely arthritic pain.
If you are considering starting an exercise program, but feel discouraged because of your arthritis contact us here at Pulse Fitness. We will discuss a game plan fit for you, so that you can stay mobile, healthy, active and no longer allow arthritis to hold you back from your goals!