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The Importance of Getting Exercise When You Have Arthritis and Some Great Ways to Get It

Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the United States — around 55 million Americans have some form of the disease. Whether you have osteoarthritis, the degenerative type of the disease rheumatoid arthritis, or a different kind of the condition, you live with stiff, swollen, painful joints that most likely interfere with your mobility. 

You might think that exercise will make your pain worse or accelerate the deterioration of your joints. But this isn’t the case. Exercise, including physical activity at home and physical therapy, can significantly reduce your joint pain and improve your mobility and quality of life. 

The team here at Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Centers incorporate exercise into arthritis treatment plans at our offices in The Woodlands and Houston, Texas. Read on to find out why.

Exercise improves joint health  

Many people assume that exercise aggravates arthritis and joint pain. While you should rest for a couple of days if you have an injury, lack of exercise actually increases joint stiffness and pain. 

Exercise keeps the muscles and connective tissue that support your joints strong and supple. When you don’t move your body, the muscles and structures that support your joints weaken and don’t lend their support.

We’re not suggesting that you run a marathon or join a Crossfit box. However, routine moderate exercise offers several benefits for arthritic joints. For example, exercise can:

Physical activity can also help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Carrying extra pounds increases stress on the joints, worsening arthritis.

Safe exercises for arthritis

Our team at Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Centers provides personalized treatment plans for all types of arthritis. They can recommend the best exercises for you to improve your joint health safely. 

If you have arthritis, make an appointment to talk to our team about exercises for arthritis. We create personalized programs based on your needs and abilities. In general, your plan includes a mix of:

Range of motion exercise

Range-of-motion (ROM) exercises improve the movement of your joints. Our physical therapists often use passive and active ROM exercises to help patients recover from injuries and surgery, but these movements are also helpful if you have arthritis. 

ROM exercises reduce stiffness and restore your full range of motion. For example, you could raise your foot slightly off the floor and rotate your ankle in circles. This ROM exercise relieves stiffness of the ankle joint.

Resistance training

During resistance exercises, you can use your body weight or additional weights against gravity to increase your muscle strength. Keeping the muscles that support your joints strong is beneficial for arthritis as it enhances the support for painful joints. Examples of resistance training include weight lifting or walking in a swimming pool. 

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is good for every aspect of your health. It reduces joint pain and stiffness, increases energy, improves sleep, and helps keep joints lubricated. Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming are easy on the joints and beneficial for people with arthritis. 

Exercise safely

You need to speak to your health care provider before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have arthritis. We create programs that help you add physical activity to your daily routine safely and sustainably. Starting slowly and gradually adding exercise is the safest way to improve your strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. 

Doing too much, too quickly, is how you end up injured and give up on exercise. If you develop pain at any point during your treatment, mention it to your provider so they can adjust your form or routine. 

Keeping your physical activity low impact reduces stress on your joints. Be careful to take it slow and easy, and keep movements gentle until you’re ready to increase the intensity. If you notice any pain, back off.

Trust your instincts and listen to your body to avoid overdoing it. Keep in mind that if you haven’t been active for a while, it’s normal to experience some muscle soreness as your body adjusts. If you’re concerned about any discomfort, mention it to your provider. They can determine if you have regular soreness from exercise or if it’s a sign of a problem.

Physical activity is extremely beneficial, enabling you to live a full, active, and pain-free life with arthritis. To learn more about what you can do to live well with arthritis, Contact any of our offices in The Woodlands and Houston, Texas, to schedule an appointment. You can call our friendly staff or book your visit online

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