You already know that exercise strengthens your muscles, which can, in turn, help protect your joints. If you have arthritis, though, you might think you should avoid exercise because it could make your joint damage worse.
The fact is that exercise is actually an important ingredient in an overall treatment strategy for arthritis. At Genesis Regenerative Sports and Aesthetic Medicine, our expert team recommends staying active even when you’re dealing with arthritis.
Read on to find out why exercise is important for arthritis patients, as well as a few tips on how to get started.
How exercise can benefit people with arthritis
Many people who suffer from joint stiffness and pain due to arthritis decide to minimize physical activity or exercise because they don’t want to do further damage to their joints.
What they don’t realize is that many symptoms associated with arthritis – including weak muscles, decreased pain tolerance, bad balance, and stiff joints – actually get worse if you are not physically active.
This means that including the right kinds of exercise as part of your daily routine should play a big role in your arthritis treatment strategy. Some of the benefits of regular exercise you may experience include:
- Higher energy levels
- Stronger muscles surrounding your joints
- Better sleep
- Control of your weight (relieves strain on your joints)
- Better balance
- Stronger bones
How to exercise with arthritis
If you have arthritis, you may not want to take up marathon running all of a sudden. Your exercise activities should be customized to account for the type of arthritis you have, which joints it affects, and your personal level of fitness. In general, low-impact activities such as swimming, biking, and walking are better for your joints than higher-impact activities like running.
Exercises that work well for arthritis patients include:
- Range-of-motion exercises to ease stiffness in your joints
- Muscle-strengthening exercises to support your joints
- Aerobic or endurance workouts to raise your overall fitness
- Body awareness techniques like yoga or tai chi designed to improve your balance, coordination, and posture
At Genesis, we provide recommendations for the kinds of exercises that will work best for your situation. For instance, we might recommend you start with physical therapy or therapeutic exercises targeted at specific joints affected by your arthritis.
Time and place are important
We usually recommend you begin your day with easy range-of-motion exercise to work through the joint stiffness that is common in the morning. A couple of examples include shoulder rolls and arm raises before getting out of bed or trying to write the alphabet with your toes while your feet dangle from the side of the bed. This will give your ankles a good workout.
Whatever exercise we recommend, you should choose to do them at a time of day that will make it easy for you to continue the routine day after day, such as during your lunch hour or immediately after work. Plan for a 30-45 minute workout.
You should also choose a location to exercise that fits your style and personality. Figure out if you will do better exercising at home, joining a gym to do aquatic programs, or even walking the mall. Exercise can also include fun activities like bike rides with your family or friends, playing with your kids or grandkids, or walking your dog around the neighborhood.
Combine exercise with other treatments
To receive the maximum benefits of exercise, you should combine your exercise routine with some of the treatment options available at Genesis. These options include:
Ultrasound-guided cortisone injections: Cortisone helps decrease swelling and inflammation in the body.
Hyaluronic acid injections: Injections of Orthovisc can act as a lubricant and shock absorber to help ease arthritis pain in your knee.
Platelet-rich plasma: PRP therapy uses highly-concentrated solutions of your own blood platelets to stimulate your body’s healing mechanisms in order to repair parts of joints damaged by arthritis.
Lipogem (adipose): Lipogem is an innovative new technology that uses a patient’s own fat tissues to provide cushion and support for damaged tissues in the body.
Bone marrow aspirate cortisone injections (BMAC): This treatment uses your body’s own regenerative stem cells from your bone marrow to speed the healing process of damaged areas.
If you would like more information about how exercise can be combined with the options above to effectively treat arthritis, contact Genesis Regenerative Sports and Aesthetic Medicine today. We’ll have you moving in no time!