Arthritis and Exercise: What to Do and Not Do

Arthritis describes several painful joint inflammation conditions affecting at least 54 million adult men and women as well as 300,000 infants and children. When you have arthritis, at least one of your joints has inflammation, which leads to such symptoms as:

In many cases, your arthritis symptoms can limit or reduce your activity level. While it’s natural to stop doing things when you’re in pain, a lack of exercise can actually worsen your symptoms instead of making them better. And when you don’t remain active, you can gain weight, which puts even more stress on your joints.

As an experienced interventional pain management physician at Apollo Pain Management, Dr. R. James Warren can develop a personalized treatment plan to manage your arthritis. He can also guide you through the do’s and don’ts of a healthy exercise so you remain active and continue doing the things you love most.

The importance of exercise when you have arthritis

Exercise plays a vital role in managing arthritis by increasing your strength and flexibility, building stamina, and reducing your joint pain. Having an exercise plan if you have arthritis can also:

But not all exercise is good exercise when you have arthritis.

The best exercises for arthritis

When you have arthritis, you should discuss your exercise plan with Dr. Warren in advance to make sure it won’t exacerbate your symptoms. After performing a comprehensive physical examination and reviewing your symptoms, Dr. Warren often recommends exercises that center on range of motion, body awareness, strengthening, and aerobic activities.

Range-of-motion exercises

These types of activities focus on reducing joint stiffness and increasing flexibility. Common range-of-motion exercises include rolling your shoulders forward and backward and raising your arms over your head. You should do range-of-motion exercises daily.

Body awareness activities

Practicing body awareness exercises like tai chi or yoga can help improve your posture and coordination, improve your balance, and increase your flexibility. Additional benefits from these types of activities include promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

Strengthening exercises

Dr. Warren recommends these types of activities to help strengthen the muscles that protect and support your joints. A popular form of strengthening exercise is weight training, and you can see benefits from specific training programs by working out just two days a week. For optimal results, Dr. Warren often recommends strength training programs three days a week with a day or two of rest between workouts.

Aerobic exercise

You don’t have to train for a marathon when you have arthritis, but regular aerobic activity can help your cardiovascular health, increase your stamina and energy, and help you manage your weight.

When you have arthritis, you should focus on low-impact aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, or biking. Dr. Warren usually recommends working up to 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week. That might sound like a lot, especially if you have joint pain, but you can break your aerobic exercise into 10-minute chunks.

What to avoid when exercising with arthritis

Increase your daily activity when you have arthritis, even in the smallest ways, can significantly improve your symptoms. But be gentle with your body and don’t push yourself too hard too quickly, especially if you’ve been inactive for a while. Avoid strenuous activities and listen to your body if you experience pain or discomfort.

After discussing your exercise plans with Dr. Warren, keep these things in mind:

It’s normal to notice some pain after exercising when you’re starting a new exercise plan. But you should talk with Dr. Warren so you can understand what type of pain is normal when you have arthritis and exercise.

To learn more about arthritis and exercise, call us at Apollo Pain Management or schedule an appointment online today.

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