If you’re living with the daily stiffness and pain of arthritis, exercising is probably the last thing you feel like doing. But experts say staying physically active is important for joint and overall health.
“Many people think the best way to treat arthritis pain is to rest, however the opposite is true,” explains Anthony Harper, a Canadian certified pedorthist and president of the Pedorthic Association of Canada. “If you don’t exercise, your joints will become stiffer and even more painful as the muscles supporting your bones’ functional movement will grow weaker, placing more stress on your joints. Staying physically active will reduce joint pain, increase strength and flexibility, boost energy levels, improve sleep, and help you maintain a healthy weight.”
Harper says an exercise regimen that includes range of motion, strength and endurance activities is best for your joint health. Walking, dancing, running, golf, tennis, biking, swimming, aerobics, yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi are all good choices.
Harper provides the following tips:
Ease into it. Although everyone beginning an exercise program or increasing their physical activity should increase their activity levels gradually, individuals with arthritis should take extra time. Add five to 10 minutes of activity everyday and monitor your body closely.
Always warm up. Dynamic stretching before you work out is very important if you have arthritis as it helps lubricate your joints and increases blood flow and muscle temperature. Static stretching should be reserved for post exercise as this can damage cold muscles.
Know when to slow down. If one of your joints is very painful before you start exercising, switch to a different activity that doesn’t put stress on the painful joint. However, if you experience severe pain while working out stop immediately and consult your health-care provider.
Consult an expert. Comfortable, activity-specific, properly fitted shoes are essential to helping you stay injury-free. Book a consultation with a Canadian certified pedorthist to determine which footwear is best for your foot type, biomechanics, arthritic condition and activity of choice. Your pedorthist will also determine if foot orthotics will help you.
More information on staying active with arthritis can be found at pedorthic.ca/arthritis.