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Exercise and arthritis. An unexpected love story.

By Paul Kanu - Personal Trainer and Physiotherapy student

Let's dive into a topic affecting millions of people worldwide: arthritis. If you or someone you know is dealing with arthritis, you're in the right place. In this article, we'll discuss what arthritis is, how it can impact your life, and, most importantly, how to manage it effectively.

First things first, what exactly is arthritis? Well, it's not just one single disease but rather a term used to describe a type of joint pain or joint disease. There are different types of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis usually occurs with age and wear and tear on the joints, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder which affects the joints and other parts of the body. As we age, some loss of muscle and mobility is normal but

Arthritis will present as a substantial loss of movement at a joint or deep aching pain, often non-specific in your joints. This pain will either worsen in the morning for RA or worsen at night for OA.

Living with arthritis can be challenging, but fear not! There are plenty of ways to manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life. Let's explore some practical tips and techniques:

  1. Stay Active: Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining joint flexibility and reducing pain. Low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, or cycling are gentle on the joints while still providing great benefits. Remember to start slowly and gradually increase your activity level. If you are unsure where to start, reach out for help from your local Exercise Physiologist.

  2. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight puts extra stress on your joints, so it's essential to maintain a healthy weight. Research has shown that a reduction in body weight by just 5% can reduce knee pain by up to 50%.

  3. Listen to Your Body: Arthritis symptoms can vary from day to day. It's important to pay attention to your body and not push yourself too hard when you're experiencing increased pain or inflammation. Rest when needed and find the right balance between activity and rest. Even exercising non-affected areas of your body will help your body stay healthy.

  4. Modify Your Environment: Make your living space arthritis-friendly! Use ergonomic tools and gadgets which reduce the strain on your joints. Simple adjustments like adding grab bars in the bathroom, using jar openers, or using cushioned mats in the kitchen can make a big difference in your daily life.

  5. Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold to your joints can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Experiment with hot packs, warm baths, or cold packs to find what works best for you.

  6. Explore Natural Remedies: Many natural remedies like turmeric, ginger, or fish oil have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce arthritis symptoms. Consult with your healthcare provider to see if incorporating these remedies into your routine is appropriate for you.

  7. Seek Support: Living with arthritis can be emotionally challenging as well. Feel free to reach out to support groups or online communities where you can connect with others who understand what you're going through. Sharing experiences, advice, and encouragement can make a world of difference.

One of the biggest myths regarding arthritis is that more movement or exercise will speed up the degeneration of the joint. The opposite is in fact, true. Joints require movement to create the flow of nutrients to stay nourished, reduce strain and enhance repair. Moderate amounts of recreational running, for example, has been shown to have a protective effect and can slow the progression of Osteoarthritis.

It's important to remember everyone's experience with arthritis is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it's important to consult with your healthcare provider or the trainers at Studio99 to help develop a personalized management plan that suits your specific needs.

Arthritis may bring challenges, but you can lead a fulfilling life with the right approach. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, managing your pain, and seeking support, you're well on your way to conquering arthritis and embracing a brighter, more comfortable future.



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