Exercise With Arthritis
By Muscle Media
Your bones are connected by a variety of joints. From your knee joints, hip joints, the joints in your fingers to the joints in your toes. Wherever bones meet, there is a rubbery, protective layer called cartilage. This allows your joints move smoothly and painlessly. But even cartilage cannot do this job alone. A thin membrane called the “synovium” provides fluid that lubricates the moving parts of the joint. When the cartilage wears out, the synovium becomes inflamed. Ultimately, the result is generally either “osteoarthritis” or “rheumatoid arthritis.”
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage can be eroded so much that one bone rubs directly on the other bone in a joint. This type of arthritis develops gradually over a lifetime. It is a result of the wear and tear placed on your joints over the years. Very few people escape some degree of osteoarthritis, though the severity varies greatly. As a matter of fact, if you are over the age of 50, you are likely to have at least one joint affected by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis affects both men and women equally. By far, it is the most common type of arthritis, with over 16 million Americans sufferers.
Rheumatoid arthritis involves damage to the synovium as the source of discomfort. Doctors and researchers are not absolutely sure what causes it. Most think that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The immune system mistakenly attacks certain healthy tissues in the body, including the joints and the synovium. Rheumatoid arthritis begins with swollen, red, stiff, and painful joints. However, it may progress until scar tissue forms in the joint. In extreme cases, the bones may actually fuse together. Almost 75% of the 2 million people with rheumatoid arthritis in the United States are women. The disease can develop as early as the teen years.
Exercising Your Prevention Options
Investing a little time to develop a good, weight-bearing, low-impact exercise and stretching plan can add up to great results minimizing arthritis pain. Strong muscles help protect the joints from wear and tear. The movement helps to keep joints flexible. This may help explain the quest for fitness, even if you are 50 years and over. However, most Americans over 50 are still sitting back, watching others jog by. Most of them believe that exercise is just for people who’ve been athletic all their life. Others say exercise is for young people and engaging in exercise will do them more harm than good. There are still others that excuse themselves from exercise because they simply don’t have time or the energy. Obviously, these are all lame excuses. It’s time to start to rid yourself of those pains. Start exercising!
Preventing arthritis is not an exact science, but researchers have discovered a few ways to lower your risk. Here is how:
Do Not “Weight Around”
The single most important measure you can take to prevent osteoarthritis pain in the knee is to lose weight. It should be no surprise that extra weight puts extra stress on your knees. For example, if you’re 10 pounds overweight, you put 60 pounds-per square-inch of additional pressure on your knees with every step. That extra pressure slowly but surely erodes the cartilage in your knees, leading to arthritis. Studies have clearly supported the idea that weight loss aides in prevention. In one study, overweight women who lost 11 pounds or more over a 10-year period decreased their risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee by 50%.
Stretch Those Muscles
Any kind of stretching is beneficial as long as you do not bounce. According to numerous clinical studies bouncing can lead to a muscle pull. Instead, try to hold a slow, steady stretch for 15 – 20 seconds, then relax and repeat. It is best to warm up by exercising before performing any stretching. You might try some light walking or jogging. It’s also a good idea to stretch every day. Ask your doctor to teach you stretches. Focus on potential arthritis trouble spots, such as your knees or the lower back.
Walking is Always the Best Exercise
A good start to a personal program involves taking a good long walk at least three times a week. As you get stronger, you may want to participate in a low-impact exercise routine could also produce results. While there is little evidence that running is bad for the joints. But aggressive running may aggravate an injury if you already have one. Just remember to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
The bottom line is that exercise is the most important of all the healthy habits. We are designed to be active. Hence, it’s important for us to exercise to stay healthy and keep joints free from wear and tear. An unexercised body, even if free from the symptoms of arthritis, is not at its full potential. What better reason to start exercising right now?