What do to for your arthritis
by Meghan Griech, PT, DPT, cert MDT, CKTP
This article takes 6 minutes to read
Don’t have time to read this? Listen to the podcast episode instead:
Subscribe to the How to Move Without Pain Podcast and never miss a bonus episode!
When you were told you had arthritis – did you instinctively think – “I’m going to be in pain forever.”
You’re not alone. A lot of people feel this way.
In truth, many times the pain you feel isn’t because of arthritis, it’s because the muscles around the joints are weak and aren’t able to adequately absorb physical stress during activity.
Your inactivity could be making you weak! Causing more joint stress and increasing pressure on the joints! Your lack of challenging your body is making you weak and painfu
When was the last time you took a walk in the park? Really walked, at a speed faster than passing by shop windows. Or felt like you could garden without risking increased pain or injury. You are not alone!
A staggering number of people suffer from joint pains that leave them fearful of doing the things they enjoy or trying something new, let alone staying active with regular activities, like walking or climbing stairs, getting up from a chair.
The CDC reports that over 15 million Americans suffer from severe joint pain related to osteoarthritis – and half of them report that this pain occurs almost every day.
That’s a lot of people!
So can you change osteoarthritis? My thought – not really.
What can you change?
- your muscle strength
- your joint movement (how far your joint bends and straightens)
- your balance
- your daily activity level
- how long do you sit
- how often do you get up
- how many steps do you take in a day
- what food do you eat to give you energy
You may be surprised to discover that your pain lessens or seems not as distracting as you get stronger and more fit.
Increasing your activity with more movement and exercise improves muscle strength and shock absorption, as well as muscle function, needed for anaerobic strength and aerobic muscle endurance, respectively.
Plenty of research supports moderate physical function as a prescription for pain from osteoarthritis without making the condition worse – provided you have had no new injuries like a fall.
In addition to muscle conditioning, moderate exercise helps to stimulate the flow of fluid that provides nutrients and proteins that keep the remaining cartilage healthy.
Exercise can also strengthen the tendons, which help support the muscles, as long a variety of activities occurs to make sure tendons and connective tissues aren’t strained and overworked.
So what should you do today ——> Get moving as often as you can (even if that’s a walk around your block or 2 extra laps in the grocery store).
It may be tough to start out, especially if your pain is wearing you down mentally as well as physically
- Let the high likelihood that you will feel better motivate you.
- Know that any new activity might make you sore because you are using muscles that haven’t been challenged in a while – that doesn’t mean you are hurting yourself
- Start slow and look for a balance of strength and endurance exercises, while mixing in your favorite activity
- Try sidestepping down your hallway
- Repeatedly sit to stand from a chair
Start slow and look for a balance of strength and endurance exercises, while mixing in your favorite aerobic activity – even if that means briskly walking around the block. Then increase your distance day by day.
*Disclaimer: All information in this article is intended for instruction and informational purposes. The author(s) are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result. This information is used to supplement not replace any advice you were provided from your doctor or another medical health professional. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied with this article.