Exercise may not seem like a priority when you are suffering from arthritis pain, but it is crucial for your relief and recovery. That’s because exercise increases your strength and flexibility, thereby reducing joint pain.
Rather than making your arthritis worse by aggravating your joint pain and stiffness, exercise can help improve your health and fitness in a variety of ways:
- Strengthens muscles surrounding your joints
- Maintains bone strength
- Provides more energy to ward off fatigue
- Makes it easier to get a good night’s sleep
- Helps control weight, relieving stress on joints
- Improves balance
- Enhances the quality of life
It’s a lack of exercise that can make your joints more painful and stiff. Keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong helps maintain support for your bones. Refraining from exercise weakens your supporting muscles, which also creates more stress on your joints.
Of course, you need to check with your doctor first before adopting an exercise regimen. The types of exercise your doctor may recommend for your treatment plan will depend on the type of arthritis you have, and which joints are affected. The aim is to design an exercise plan that provides the most benefit with the least aggravation of your pain.
One exercise often recommended by orthopedic physicians is running.
Outrunning Your Pain
You don’t have to race in a marathon to use running as therapy for your arthritis pain. There are many people with arthritis who tolerate moderate running, particularly if the arthritic pain is confined primarily in the upper-body joints.
But even if you have mild to moderate arthritis pain in your lower extremities, running can offer some relief. That’s because it promotes blood flow to your limbs, improving oxygen and nutrient supply to stress regions such as your joints.
When you run, start slowly and gradually increase your activity level. If you have never run before, start by walking or doing a lower-impact exercise such as biking or swimming.
You can also modify your running, depending on your affected joints and tolerance for discomfort. For example, taking a shorter stride reduces the load on your weight-bearing joints. Other modifications can include running on softer surfaces – such as trails, paths, or on a treadmill – to reduce joint impact, and making adjustments to your running schedule once you know your limitations.
As any runner knows, proper running form puts less stress on your joints and decreases your risk of injury. Also, be sure you have the proper footwear. Check with your doctor before running barefoot, in toe shoes or minimalist footwear.
If you are suffering from any type of joint pain, you may benefit from any number of approaches and physical therapies. Call the specialists at Movement Orthopedics at (586) 436-3785 for more information about our comprehensive treatments and services, or to schedule an appointment for a consultation.