Nearly 60 million American adults suffer from arthritis, making it one of the most common causes of chronic pain for both women and men. In fact, about 1 in 4 people with arthritis suffers from severe joint pain, and about half report persistent pain from their disease.
While you might think resting your joints and taking it easy is a good way to limit painful symptoms, plenty of research shows that the opposite is true: Gentle exercise on a regular basis may actually reduce pain and even slow the progression of your symptoms.
In fact, people who are physically active are less likely to have painful arthritis symptoms in the first place.
At Midwest Sports and Interventional Spine, double board-certified physician Cyril Philip, MD, helps patients in Franklin, Wisconsin, manage their arthritis symptoms with custom arthritis treatment plans designed to limit the use of medication and more invasive treatments.
That includes exercise recommendations tailored to each patient’s needs, symptoms, and health challenges.
Arthritis is a group of diseases that cause progressive joint damage. There are several types of arthritis, the most common type being osteoarthritis caused by wear and tear to the joint surfaces. Other types include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Lupus arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
Arthritis can develop in any joint and at any age, although it tends to be more common among older people. Many people with arthritis find their symptoms limit their ability to be physically active, increasing their risks of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Exercise helps by keeping joints lubricated, plus it strengthens the muscles and connective tissues that help give your joints support.
Regular physical activity also reduces risks associated with arthritis, keeping your heart healthy and your weight in check. In fact, regular exercise can play an important role in reducing pain in weight-bearing joints by helping you shed extra pounds.
Best types of exercise
Ideally, you should mix it up when it comes to your exercise routine, using a variety of exercise types to gain the most benefits. You don’t have to be a marathon runner to get the benefits of exercise, either. Regular, gentle activity is the key to helping you feel better and stay on track.
These exercises help keep your joints flexible and include gentle stretches to engage your ligaments and tendons, as well as your muscles and joints. Stretching exercises also improve circulation to your joints and the tissues that surround them.
Strong muscles help protect your joints and take some of the load off weight-bearing joints. The key is to use lighter weights that don’t strain your joints, improving muscle endurance rather than building bulk.
Aerobic exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight while also improving your cardiovascular health, endurance, and energy. Low-impact exercises, like walking, biking, and swimming, give you all the benefits without increasing the strain on your joints.
Simple tips for healthy exercise
You can also look for ways to increase activity naturally during your daily routines. Parking farther from a store entrance and going for a brisk walk after lunch or dinner are good ways to work in a little extra exercise without taking time out of your busy schedule.
No matter what type of exercise you choose, bear these tips in mind:
- Start slowly and ramp up gradually
- Take a break if pain increases
- Use heat before exercise, ice afterward
- Always warm up first
- Choose low-impact activities that are gentle on joints
Most importantly, before starting any new exercise routine, talk to Dr. Philip for guidance on how to keep your joints healthy and protected.
Relieve your arthritis pain
Regular exercise is just one way to manage your arthritis symptoms. At Midwest Sports and Interventional Spine, Dr. Philip offers an array of options and treatment combinations tailored to each patient’s individual needs.
To learn how Dr. Philip can help you manage your arthritis symptoms, book an appointment online or over the phone today.