Staying Active With Arthritis
What Does Arthritis Mean?
It’s a name for a group of conditions affecting any joint in the body. These conditions cause damage to the joints, and symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness or warmth in the joint.
Arthritis can include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
How will exercise help my arthritis?
By moving regularly, you might feel less pain, have more energy, and sleep better. If you exercise regularly, studies show you might be less likely to develop depression or anxiety, and it also helps to manage your weight, which reduces load on your joints.
Through moving regularly, you can improve your flexibility, and reduce joint stiffness, that will then allow you to improve your overall cardiovascular fitness and strength. With the right amount of exercise, you can enjoy participating in more of your favourite activities, and enjoy your time with family and friends.
What exercise should I do?
Good exercises to start with are:
Range of motion exercises: Move the joint through as much range as you can manage 5-10 times a day. As you repeat this everyday, or every 2nd day, you might find the joint starts to feel less stiff.
Walking: This is easy to do, and doesn’t require any special equipment. Start with a short 5-10 minute walk, and gradually build up each day as your body allows
Water based exercise: This can include walking in the water, swimming, aqua aerobics, aqua yoga, or simply floating in the water. The water provides gentle compression to help reduce swelling in your joints, plus it offloads your joints, to allow you to move move easily.
Stretching: By gently stretching some of your muscles, you will help your body to feel more flexible. If you would like more information on what stretches you should do, book in to see one of our physiotherapists here.
Cycling: You can hire a stationary bike to use at home, or go for a short ride around your neighbourhood. This is a low impact activity that can help you stay moving well.
Weights: As with all these types of exercise, start with a small amount 2-3 times per week, and build up slowly. If you’re not sure what weights to use, book in to see us and we can write a program for you.
How much can I do?
The key is to start with a small amount, and see how your body responds.
Aim to do your chosen activity 2-3 times per week in the beginning, and start with as little as 5-10 minutes, so you can see how you feel during the rest of the day.
Follow the 2 hour pain rule: If you have extra or unusual pain for more than 2 hours after exercise, you’ve done too much. Symptoms will vary from day to day, so if you’re having a bad patch, try to keep moving however you can. Water based activity is often very useful when arthritis is making life difficult.
Arthritis doesn’t have to rule your life, but with the right guidance, you can continue doing many of the things that you love.
So, if you’re struggling with arthritis symptoms, let one of our physiotherapists help out. Book in via our simple Online Booking system.