Arthritis describes more than 100 conditions that have one thing in common — pain in the joints. When you have aching knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, or ankles, one of the last things you may want to do is work out. But physical therapy is the one thing you ought to do to combat pain, stiffness, and progression related to the disease.
Arthritis sufferers — whether your condition is osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia — benefit tremendously from staying active. Find an activity you enjoy to keep your joints strong and flexible, reduce your pain, and manage your weight. Our Doctors will create a custom exercise program that will make sure the physical therapy you perform is the right place for you to begin.
When you exercise, you strengthen the muscles that support your joints. These muscles support the bones during all activity, so they experience less stress and won’t give you as much pain. During daily activity, even just walking, strong muscles help absorb impact and reduce the work your joints must do.
Inactivity allows your muscles to tighten and stiffen, aggravating arthritis pain and decreasing your range of motion. Regular movement encourages better circulation to your joints so you move with more ease and comfort.
Being overweight heaps extra stress on your joints. Regular moderate-intensity exercise equal to about 30 minutes most days of the week helps keep you from gaining weight and further aggravating your arthritis pain.
Exercise improves your core strength and proprioception — the sense of where you are in space — which helps you keep your balance. Injuries from falls can make arthritis pain worse, plus lead to serious breaks that take a long time to heal.
Weight-bearing exercise, such as strength training and hiking, helps you maintain bone density and ward off osteoporosis. The combination of arthritis and osteoporosis can be extremely limiting, so build bone density before it starts to decline.
Exercise taxes your system so you’re better able to sleep at night. Restful sleep eludes 70% of arthritis sufferers, so this isn’t a benefit to take for granted. With better sleep, you’re more energized all day long so you can complete chores, do better at work, and just enjoy life more.
The type of arthritis you have, how painful it is, and your fitness level dictate what physical therapies you should pursue. If you’ve been inactive, start gradually with short 5 minute walks and seeing a Doctor to work on improving your pain and range of motion. You may find it takes you longer to adjust and adapt to exercise compared with people who don’t have arthritis, but stick with it! Select low-impact activity, such as daily walks, water aerobics, or golf.
If you have questions about appropriate exercise choices, intensity, or our physical therapy program don’t hesitate to call us at 972-290-1507.