If you’re among the 22% of American adults living with joint pain and stiffness from a rheumatic condition, you may be well aware that movement is a good thing. Exercising if you have arthritis might sound uncomfortable at first, but it can result in significant pain reduction and improved mobility if you do it correctly.
Pain management specialist Nora Taha, MD, understands how arthritis affects joints and can help you implement the best practices for maintaining joint function. Here at LiveWell Pain Management in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, she can teach you how to exercise your arthritic joints to alleviate your symptoms.
Dr. Taha teaches joint-specific exercises for arthritis as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, which could include joint injections, radiofrequency ablation, acupuncture, and lifestyle medicine. Here’s what you should keep in mind while exercising your arthritic joints.
Low-impact exercises involve movements that are gentle and place minimal stress or pressure on your joints. Dr. Taha encourages you to include some form of low-impact aerobic activity in your routine. Aerobic exercises help with your overall fitness, including cardiovascular health, and choosing low-impact options ensures they’ll be easy on your joints, too.
A few low-impact options are:
When starting any new type of workout routine, it’s essential to learn about how to perform the exercises and use the proper body mechanics. Doing so gives you and your arthritic joints the best possible outcome.
During low-impact aerobic activities, it’s important to maintain moderate intensity so you don’t overwork your joints or wear yourself out. One great way to check in with your intensity level is to see if you can hold a conversation while you work out. If you can’t because you’re trying to catch your breath, it’s time to slow down a little.
Even movements or exercises that seem to involve minimal effort can benefit your joints if you have arthritis. To relieve stiffness in your arthritic joints, practice guiding them through their full ranges of motion.
To manage shoulder arthritis, for example, you can lift your arms forward, upward, and back as far as they’ll go. You may also practice rotating your shoulders clockwise and counterclockwise.
Range-of-motion stretches and exercises can help you maintain your joints’ flexibility. By practicing them every day, you can be better able to continue using your joints in spite of your arthritis.
Strength training is a type of exercise that uses resistance — either from your own body weight or from external weights — to build muscle. By increasing the strength of the muscles and tendons that support your joints, you can help maintain the use of your joints and may even be able to slow the progression of your arthritis.
It’s important to be sparing with your strength training for arthritis. You should rest at least a day between strength training workouts, or for longer if you experience increasing soreness, stiffness, and swelling. You should also keep track of which muscle groups you strengthen to avoid using the same groups of muscles in multiple strength training sessions in a row.
Are you ready to start developing your own arthritis-friendly exercise routine? Learn more by calling 201-201-7450 or booking an appointment online with LiveWell Pain Management today.