EXERCISE IS ESSENTIAL
But we need to know what exercise to do and not to do. I can speak from much experience with arthritis – in my knees, back, hips and fingers. Some forms of exercise may worsen the condition, while other forms are of significant benefit.
This post will explore exercises for joint comfort and the treatment of arthritis.
Here are some definitions. Arthritis is the swelling or tenderness of the joints, causing joint pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to break down. Cartilage is the tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints. Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood.
Famous athletes who dealt successfully with arthritis include the following:
- Shaquille O’Neal – who had arthritis in a toe. He felt that playing basketball at 320 pounds was the cause – lots of running, jumping and dunking while overweight
- Dorothy Hamill – hip, neck and knees. She still gets on the ice even now. See my prior post on Dorothy. She is also shown below.
- Sandy Koufax – an injury to his left elbow caused the arthritis. He retired from baseball at age 30 and was elected to the Hall of Fame at age 36.
- Gordie Howe – left wrist. He retired from hockey in 1971, but came back to play in 1973 after surgery.
- Jack Nicklaus – arthritis in his hip. Jack noticed his hip pain in 1963, but didn’t have hip surgery until 1999. His record of tournament wins speaks for itself.
The benefits of exercise are generally increased endurance, greater strength, better sleep and more energy. For those with arthritis, there are even more benefits:
- More flexibility
- Improvements in daily life functioning
- Better range of motion
- Reduction of joint pain
The 10 best exercises for arthritis, per Facty Health are:
1. Walking – this strengthens our bones and can be an aerobic workout if we choose to add intensity by increasing speed and distances.
2. Stretching – increases the strength of the muscles and tendons that surround our joints.
3. Strengthen muscles – this will help us live with arthritis on our terms. We should do muscle building at least 2-3 times per week. Higher reps with lower resistance is best. Later in this post, I will show some tools that are ideal for those with arthritis to use.
4. Aerobics – will give us better overall fitness. We need to start with an aerobics class that fits our needs. Working up to high impact will take time. Look for workout groups or personal trainers that will relate to our pain or resistance levels.
5. Suspension training – be sure that you learn the techniques before you begin. Also, those with wrist or ankle pain should avoid this. Leveraging our bodies from straps is highly beneficial. Check my prior post on TRX suspension training .
6. Pilates – will concentrate on the core of the body – abdomen, obliques, lower back, glutes,
7. Yoga – the relaxation techniques and stretching help to improve our movement and holding the poses improves our strength and concentration.
8. Water workouts – swimming and water walking do not put the strain on our joints that land-based workouts may. Look for water aerobics classes or ask your personal trainer to set up a program specific to your needs.
9. Cycling – will protect your feet and ankles. This is great for cardiovascular fitness and for strengthening our leg muscles.
10. Tai Chi – is similar to yoga and is a low impact form of exercise that involves slow, deliberate movements to strengthen our bodies and reduce pain.
Exercises to avoid are:
- Stair climbing
- Prolonged standing
As an Amazon associate, I may use their links in my posts to provide relevance. There are many products within Amazon that fit the needs of those with arthritis. I may earn from activity on the links, though this has no effect on pricing. Each link will have descriptions, prices, reviews and access to other similar choices at different price points.
Resistance bands with handles – these ease the stress on joints while still giving us plenty of resistance. Note the low prices.
Loop resistance bands – I use these for physical therapy movements and sometimes for high rep arm exercise. They are also called booty bands and are popular with women.
Tai Chi for beginners, 2 DVDs
Yoga basics starter kit – mat, foam block, strap, instructions on cards, knee pad
Bullworker Fitness gives us options for both isotonic and isometric reps within the same set. In either case, the movements protect the joints. I use both the Steel Bow and Bow Classic. The Steel Bow is shown below. Bruce Lee, noted martial arts fighter and movie star, used Bullworkers to develop his striking strength.
Check out the Bullworker site for all of the products with description, prices and other pertinent information. Or you may use the link at the side of my website, which is permanent and updated constantly.
There are also foods to eat for support of joint health, such as:
- Fish – salmon, mackerel and tuna, which have high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D
- Dark leafy greens
- Olive oil
- Garlic and onions
- Green tea
We should avoid:
- Refined carbohydrates
- Added sugars
- Saturate and trans fats
Osteoarthritis can be especially troublesome for us as we age. I know this from personal experience, since I played tennis at a weight over 200 pounds for many years. I am now an octogenarian, at around 184 pounds. I do workouts every day, but as much for physical therapy as for strength and endurance. Staying active in sports was of benefit for me, but I regret that I didn’t always eat well.
My lesson to others – it isn’t sufficient to play sports and work out, unless we also eat a healthy diet.
Please leave me any questions or comments in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, email@example.com.
Be well and stay active!