Below is a compilation of tips to keep in mind when exercising, so you can still remain active while living with arthritis.
- Take care of your feet. Talk to your physician to determine if shoe inserts are right for you. Joint pain can occur if your feet are not properly supported during activities such as walking.
- Protect your fingers. If you have pain in your fingers, a brace or splint can help support the joint while you are exercising to diminish pain and remove any distractions.
- Brace your knees. Arthritis sufferers with knee pain will benefit significantly from the use of a knee brace during exercise. The brace stabilizes the kneecap and the compression can help reduce swelling. Many prefer to wear a knee brace all the time; talk to your doctor about what the best option is for you.
- Turn up the heat to lower your level of pain. Experts recommend applying warm heat to painful joint areas before exercising. The heat can relax your joints and muscles and help you avoid injury. Using a warm compress, such as a hot towel, on the area for about 20 minutes will prepare you for a workout.
- Cool down properly. Following a workout, apply ice to any areas that feel painful to reduce potential swelling.
Dr. Lee Schmidt, orthopedic surgeon at GBMC, recommends sticking to exercises that are not too strenuous. “Individuals with arthritis are encouraged to try exercises that are easy on the joints, like walking, although patients may want to avoid hills, which place additional strain on the joints,” he notes. Dr. Schmidt states that other safe exercises for those with arthritis include use of a stationary bike, pool/aquatic exercise, swimming, using an elliptical machine and restorative yoga.
The Arthritis Foundation offers guided exercise videos on its website. To view this resource, click here. The Foundation also has walking groups in many areas. Contact your local chapter for more information.