Three Tips for Avoiding Arthritis Pain While Exercising : Over 50 million adults and nearly half of all adults over the age of 65 currently suffer from arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Many people dealing with arthritis feel that it’s impossible for them to exercise without experiencing additional pain. However, there are lots of things people can do to enjoy the benefits of regular exercise without putting unnecessary stress on their bodies.
Keep reading for three tips that will help people suffering from Arthritis Pain While Exercising.
Benefits of Exercise for Arthritis Patients
Regular exercise helps decrease bone loss and maintain strength in the muscles surrounding inflamed joints. It also helps to lubricate the cartilage and reduce pain and stiffness.
Exercise is ideal for helping arthritis patients maintain their stamina while improving sleep quality and reducing risk for injury. If you’re overweight, you should especially focus on increasing your physical activity, as excess weight puts more pressure on the joints and can make pain and stiffness worse.
The psychological benefits of exercise also cannot be ignored. Exercise has been proven to decrease anxiety, improve mood, and promote relaxation.
Many people with arthritis suffer from depression, so exercise can be a great antidote to boost your mood and overall sense of well-being.
How to Avoid Arthritis Pain While Exercising
These tips will help you stay active without experiencing additional joint pain before, during, or after their workouts.
1. Warm Up and Cool Down Properly
Jumping straight into a workout is a recipe for disaster for people with arthritis, and exiting the gym without a properly cool down won’t do you any favors, either.
The Warm Up
- A thorough warm up is essential for everyone, but especially those with arthritis. Warming up the muscles thoroughly will help prevent pain and injuries.
- Before exercising, spend at least five minutes walking or doing another form of low-intensity cardio to increase the body’s temperature.
- Applying heat to the joints prior to working out can also help loosen them up.
- Cooling down helps lower the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. It also improves flexibility and prevents muscle pain and soreness.
- A good cool-down for someone with arthritis will include some low-intensity aerobic activity, like walking, followed by static stretching. Soaking in a whirlpool or spending some time in the sauna or steam room can also help the muscles relax post-workout.
2. Create a Balanced Routine
A balanced workout routine will include the following three types of exercises:
- Flexibility exercises improve range of motion and decrease muscle soreness.
- At a minimum, people with arthritis should aim for 15 minutes of stretching per day, preferably after doing some light cardiovascular activity to increase the overall body temperature. Classes like yoga and tai chi are also helpful for improving flexibility.
- To get the most out of stretching exercises, it’s important to move slowly through the stretches to a point of slight discomfort, but not pain. Stretching in a warm room is also helpful.
Strength Training Exercises
- Strength training builds up the muscles surrounding the joints, which helps prevent soreness.
- A good strength training routine for people with arthritis will include both isometric exercises (which involve contracting the muscle without moving the joint) and isotonic exercises that do include joint movement.
- It’s recommended that people with arthritis avoid strength training every day. Taking at least one day in between workouts will give the muscles time to recover.
- While some discomfort is expected, there shouldn’t be pain the joints during a workout. If there is, patients should switch to a different exercises, or decrease the resistance or weight they’re using.
- Aerobic exercise can be tricky for people with arthritis, as many activities put too much strain on the joints. Some good, low-impact options include cycling, walking, water aerobics, and swimming.
- Ideally, arthritis patients will work up to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three or four days per week.
3. Ditch the Dumbbells
Some people with arthritis in their hands struggle with strength training exercises because they have a hard time gripping dumbbells and barbells. There are still plenty of options for building strength without straining the joints in the hands or arms, though.
One of the best alternatives to dumbbell or barbell work is to use wrist weights instead. Wrist weights typically weigh between 1 and 5 pounds, so they’re great for beginners who aren’t ready for a lot of extra resistance.
Wrist weights can also be worn while walking to increase calorie burn.
Not all gyms have wrist weights available, but finding the best wrist weights for you isn’t too difficult.
Many sporting goods stores sell them, and you can also find them online. Look for weights that easily wrap around the wrists and fasten securely so you don’t have to worry about them flying off during a workout.
If you suffer from arthritis, you may feel that it’s impossible for you to live an active lifestyle without dealing with joint pain and stiffness.
There are lots of ways to avoid this pain while working out, though. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be reaping all the benefits of exercise before you know it!