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Get Moving to Help Ease Joint Pain Caused by Arthritis

Get Moving to Help Ease Joint Pain Caused by Arthritis
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If you have joint pain caused by arthritis, you might think that rest is necessary to help ease your discomfort. In fact, sticking to a regular exercise routine can relieve pain and improve joint function. The key is to choose exercises that don’t put too much stress on the joints.

Move More, Feel Better

No matter what form of arthritis you have, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, maintaining a regular workout routine has many benefits, including:

  • Keeping joints agile by increasing the synovial fluid, which works like oil in an engine

  • Reducing inflammation and the amount of inflammation-causing body fat
  • Promoting circulation of water to the joint, which supplies nutrients and oxygen
  • Getting blood flowing to the joints to supply nutrients and oxygen and remove damaged cells

In addition to relieving pain and improving the function of joints, physical activity can boost mood, ease stiffness and reduce fatigue.

Exercises to Ease Joint Pain and Improve Mobility

Before starting an exercise routine, be sure to check with your doctor. Intense exercise can increase your risk of injury, so one strategy is to do low-impact activities to limit wear and tear on the joints.

Here are some exercises to try to help meet your goals and reduce joint pain:

  • Aerobic exercise. This is any activity that strengthens the heart and lungs by increasing your heart rate and your use of oxygen. Aerobic exercise also increases your endurance and helps keep you healthy. If you have arthritis, you should avoid high-impact exercises that put stress on the joints, such as jogging. Activities such as swimming, walking and biking are easy on joints and provide the same benefits. if your symptoms are flaring up, it’s best to wait until they subside before doing these activities.
  • Balance activities. Many simple exercises can help improve your overall balance. Try standing with your weight evenly distributed between both feet. Then lift one foot while balancing on the other for five seconds and repeat with the other foot. Gradually work your way up to 30 seconds on each foot. Yoga and tai chi can help also help with balance.
  • Joint flexibility and mobility exercises. Move your joint as far as it will go, then gently try pushing it a little farther. This can be helpful even when joints are swollen.
  • Resistance training. This type of exercise builds muscle by using your own body weight as resistance. For example, if you have knee pain, you can build up the muscle in your thighs to take the strain off your knee joint. Try sitting in a chair, then standing up using only your thigh muscles. Stand for a moment and then sit down, again using only your thigh muscles.

It’s common to experience some pain, stiffness or swelling when first starting an exercise routine. Listen to your body and scale back exercise until your body gets more used to working out. Icing and taking pain medications – such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen – can help ease pain and inflammation caused by exercising.

Have questions about your joint health? Find a provider at Union Health who can help.

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