According to the CDC, arthritis is the most common disability among adults in the USA. And even though multiple studies show that exercise is the best way to decrease pain and increase range of motion - one third of the people in the United States with arthritis don't exercise.
I have arthritis in my right shoulder and at times in my life, I've been part of that one third. I have adapted my program so I'm able to workout without my pain getting worse. Now I have less pain and more range of motion because I workout on a regular basis.
Here are 3 ways that can help you through the obstacles of exercising with arthritis.
1. Listen to your body
It is extremely important to listen to what your body is telling you and to trust your instincts. If you find that an exercise is making your arthritis pain worse, or you become more stiff, take a step back. I found that it's okay to just do some activity rather than too much because it will set you back. Overdoing it can cause more harm than good.
If you recognize that certain movements cause pain, modify them or just skip them. For example if you are doing a workout that involves jumping jacks, but you know that the high impact will hurt your joints, modify the workout by just kicking one foot to the side with the opposite arm and then switch.
Bottom line-be in touch with your body and make the necessary adjustments.
2. Strength training and weightlifting might sound intimidating, but it can be incorporated easily. One idea from arthritis.org is to start with everyday objects such as soup cans and then as this becomes too easy and graduate to small weights and your body weight. I started this way. It is better to do small weights or bodyweight exercises than nothing.
3 Stretch every day
Stretching is vital for people with arthritis, but sometimes stretching is overlooked. Stretching is like greasing your joints. Think of hinges of a door that are all dried out. They creak and sometimes can't open. If you oil the hinges, then the door can work again. Stretching also increases flexibility and relieve pain.
Many times stretching has made my pain get better immediately. Some of my favorite stretches for relieving pain are kneeling lunge side bend. I also like to bend one leg and cross it over the other leg and put my opposite elbow on my bent knee. This helps my spine feel much better. Stretching throughout the day helps me to continue on when pain or stiffness has slowed me down..
Exercising with arthritis can be tricky, but the effort is worth it.
Major lives in Cincinnati, He is a Personal trainer, Health Coach, Corrective exercise specialist. One of his favorite activities is to exercise. He loves reading about health topics and writing on he's blog. Majortakes courses about health and fitness through ACE.
Health Coach /Wellness Consultant/Corrective exercise specialist