There are many people who suffer from Arthritis or joint pain. Sometimes, the pain is so severe that it renders the person unable to move let alone work out. However, there is plenty of research out there which has shown that exercise can actually help reduce arthritis pain rather than aggravate it.
A lot of people with arthritis or joint pain are advised not to indulge in any form of exercise. This is done to ensure that the person does not end up hurting themselves. However, as established, this is actually counterproductive. Regular exercise can reduce inflammation, stiffness, joint pain, build muscles around the weakened joints for better support. Working out can improve flexibility and endurance as well, all the more reason why arthritis patients should indulge in some form of exercise.
Therefore, it’s important that people suffering from sore joints or a condition such as arthritis should work out. However, before they do so, there are a few important steps they need to take. Here’s what you need to do BEFORE you begin working out:
Consult a professional
Although exercising can help, there’s also a possibility for it to worsen your condition if it’s already really bad. Therefore, a meeting with your doctor is recommended before you start any type of workout. Your doctor should be able to tell you the do’s and don’ts of working out with your condition and you should also ask about any health concerns you may have.
If you can, then also do consult a physiotherapist. That’s because a doctor can help you to some extent, but a physio can help you even more. Physiotherapists are trained professionals specializing in helping people work around their injuries or disabilities. Therefore, they can even guide you to some workouts that you can do that work best to your specific condition.
Moreover, it’s common that you’ll feel more pain when you start working out with joint pain. A physiotherapist can help you minimize that pain by telling you the right way to start off. There are a bunch of strengthening and preliminary exercises that build a solid foundation before you even start the actual workout. A physiotherapist can identify weak areas and assign you the proper foundation building exercises.
Another thing to look into is a workout program made particularly for arthritis patients. If you can find classes specially made for arthritis patients or people with sore joints, then it’s really helpful because you’ll have trainers looking after you as you work out. They can also monitor your progress and adjust the workouts accordingly without compromising on your health.
Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, if you don’t have access to an arthritis-friendly workout class, that’s not an issue! It’s easy to work out at home in a safe manner. Here’s what you need to do.
The Arthritis-friendly workout
This doesn’t just apply to people with arthritis, it applies to everyone who exercises. A warm-up is necessary to get your muscles ready for your workout. It lessens the risk for injury and you feel less pain once you’re warmed up. If you start a workout without warming up then you’ll likely feel more pain during the workout and maybe even after it’s finished.
As a warmup, you can walk for a few minutes to get your body temperature up. You can also just do some normal stretches or holds for a few seconds to get those muscles working. Applying heat to the body also works in getting body temperature up and loosening the muscles.
When you’re done warming up, the actual workout can start. Of course, it’ll be a bit different than traditional workouts because the primary goal is a bit different. The end goal for working out, in this case, is to strengthen the muscles around the joints so that eventually your pain gets minimized. That’s why we start off with some flexibility work with stretches.
Stretching is great for people with arthritis. It helps improve your range of motion and overall movement. If you’re an arthritis patient, it’s recommended that you perform some sort of stretching exercises once a day. Around 15 minutes should be solely devoted to stretching during the start of the workout. This builds on the warmup done earlier and really loosens up your body, making the pain in a lot of areas go away. You can do Yoga as well as a great range-of-motion workout.
When you stretch, try to do it in a warm room. This is done because it helps your muscles relax and move easily better than if it were a colder room. Also, be slow and thorough with your stretches, try to hold them. However, don’t push yourself too much that it starts becoming painful. The whole point of the workout is to eliminate pain, so don’t stretch beyond the point of comfort.
Now, once the stretching is done, we can move on to strength training. At this point, you are fully warmed up, your muscles are fully stretched and ready which means now you’re ready for some strength training. This part of the workout aims to build some muscle around the weak joints for better support.
The strength exercises you’ll be doing won’t put pressure on the joints. What you’ll need to do is to lie on your back and then squeeze your thigh muscles as you lie down for some isometric work. Next, do some exercises such as a partial-chair squat and the leg press. These exercises cover the isotonic portion of the workout, where you use the movement of your joints. These are essential in strengthening the joints themselves, and the area around them.
Although it’s recommended that you should stretch every day, do strength training every other day after your stretches. That’s because your muscles need time to recover. If you don’t give them time, then your next workout won’t be as effective as you’ll still be feeling sore from the last workout. Another thing to note is that only use weights if you think it’s too easy. Don’t use any weight that’s beyond your control.
If you can’t do an exercise in a slow, controlled way with a certain weight then you need to reduce the weight you’re lifting. Moreover, don’t push it too hard, start slow.
Once you complete your workout, it’s time for a cooldown. This involves more stretching and overall just cooling down your muscles and joints after a hard workout. A cooldown is important after every workout because it reduces the risk of injury. Furthermore, it also helps in preventing excessive soreness the next day. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you do a 5-10 minute cooldown after the workout.
Do some stretches to relax the muscles, walk at a light pace. Take a bath in hot water or apply ice if you feel any soreness in your muscles or joints. Once you’re done, try to have a meal high in protein so that your body can start recovering straight away.
Working out is hard for arthritis patients. The workouts aren’t the same either. However, that’s all to protect you from dealing with pain any further. Stick to a workout plan and you’ll eventually have healthier joints, and will perhaps be able to do more advanced exercises.