Sunday, December 2, 2012

5 Top Pain-Relieving Exercises for Arthritis

Now I must say before starting any exercise plan you should always consult with your physician. Your physician will know what is best for you and your specific arthritis symptoms. With that being said let's get started...

When you suffer from arthritis pain it sometimes can be difficult just to get up out of your chair or use your hands, so it's no surprise that you would be more likely to just not do anything. However, moving your body is exactly what you really need. Exercise is actually the best medicine for your arthritis pain relief. I know it's hard to believe but exercise can decrease your pain, especially those that are suffering from osteoarthritis which is the most common type of arthritis stated in many medical journals & publications. 

It's a fact that exercise such as walking is as effective in reducing knee pain as drugs used to relieve this type of pain such as naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil). For me, Yoga, Tai Chi and walking gave me more relief than any drugs prescribed to relieve me of my pain.

I can confirm that exercise works because I suffer from osteoarthritis and severe knee pain. When you workout regularly it also may prevent the arthritis you have from getting worse over time. When you're physically active you will have a higher quality of life and find you're less likely to become disabled or have days with a lot of pain! Now that I have your attention and you may be more motivated to get up and exercise, do you need another reason to get up and get moving? Well, obesity can increase your risk of arthritis and make your symptoms worse.

Your workout should be challenging, but not painful enough to cause you injury. If you have a joint or muscle pain that lasts longer than a couple of hours after you've exercised or if the pain gets worse over a course of several days, you've probably over exercised! At this point, you want to shorten your workout or do the exercise at less of an impact. Most workout programs have a "low impact" version of all the exercises in the program.
So, you're probably asking what exercises should you do? It's important that you move your joints but you don't want to aggravate your symptoms. Here are the 5 exercises that I found to help me the most in relieving my arthritis pain and improved my quality of life physically.

1. Walking- This type of exercise strengthens your muscles, which helps when pressure shifted from your joints, and reduces pain. It also compresses and releases cartilage in your knees, bringing nourishing oxygen to your joints. It's my recommendation to try walking 10-12 minutes at least 3-5 days per week. You can always increase your walks and add short bursts of speed into a moderate pace to build up your workout. Keep in mind, people with severe hip or knee problems should check with their doctor before starting a walking program.

2. Water Exercise- It has been found that warm water (83-90 degrees) will help relax your muscles and decrease pain. Exercises involving swimming, aerobics, walking and jogging in water is a great way to relieve stiff, sore joints and is of lower impact as well. Working out in water has other benefits such as relieving stress on your hips, knees and spine plus it offers you a workout with resistance but without the use of weights. This form of exercise is ideal for those of you that have severe arthritis pain in your hips and knees. This is the exercise program I started with first due to my severe knee pain. Water is stated to provide 12 times the resistance of air, so you will really be strengthening and building muscle with this type of workout!

3. Yoga- Uses simple, gentle movements that gradually build strength, balance and flexibility. Yoga is especially beneficial for people with arthritis. It can also reduce inflammation, increase your energy, promote a positive mental outlook which will help you cope with arthritis. Be sure to let the Yoga instructor know that you have arthritis so the poses can be modified to accommodate you. If your more comfortable exercising at home there are many companies and instructors that have Yoga videos or books. Remember that if you feel pain in a pose, you're probably overdoing it!

4. Tai Chi- Is a traditional style of Chinese martial arts that goes back to ancient times. It incorporates slow, rhythmic movements to induce mental relaxation and improves balance, strength and flexibility. Tai Chi is extremely valuable to arthritis patients because its movements are slow, controlled and low impact. Tai Chi like Yoga improves mental well-being, life satisfaction and your perception of health, which can help you with the negative effects of chronic pain. There are particular benefits for those that suffer from knee pain. It has been found in major studies that Chinese workouts can improve physical function and reduce pain in patients over 65 years old with knee osteoarthritis. There are many books and courses in this ancient Chinese workout however, the Arthritis Foundation offers a 12-Step Tai Chi course. Keep in mind that it's always best to workout when you have the least pain and stiffness so, often Tai Chi is done in the morning.

5. Indoor Cycling- Is an excellent way to get a cardio workout without stressing weight-bearing joints. Investing in a good stationary bike is also a good option for people that have balance problems which is common among inactive people with arthritis. Try not to pedal faster than 40-50 revolutions per minute and add resistance only after you've warmed up for about 5 minutes. You should never add too much resistance which causes you to have trouble pedaling. A good place to start with cycling is to start a 5 minute session at a comfortable pace 3 times per day. When you get to the point where you're cycling pain-free, increase your workout to 7 minutes and continue to ramp up until you hit the 20 minute mark. Those of you that have severe pain in your knees should avoid indoor cycling because it can aggravate the condition. Remember to "listen" to your body and what it's telling you.

I hope this article has helped you and please remember to always consult with your physician before starting any exercise plan. Your physician can also prescribe medications to relieve arthritis pain and swelling so you can workout.

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