Osteoarthritis doesn’t have to be a life sentence of inactivity. On the contrary, experts say that embracing regular exercise can actually help protect arthritis-riddled joints and prevent the condition from getting worse. Still, many people living with OA are afraid to take up a regular fitness practice.
The key here is selecting osteoarthritis-friendly exercises. The Arthritis Foundation breaks it down into three recommended categories:
- Range of motion/flexibility exercises: activities that gently encourage your joints to open and move optimally
- Aerobic/endurance exercises: activities that get your blood pumping and your lungs functioning in a way that doesn’t put added stress on achy joints. This type of exercise is key to maintaining a healthy weight, which is critical for easing OA symptoms.
- Strengthening exercises: activities that target muscles that support injured joints. Strengthening these muscles can improve pain and protect against further damage.
We’ve done the research for you, pinpointing some of our favorite activities for those suffering from OA.
Not all yoga is created equal—if you’re battling chronic pain, a rigorous, physically demanding yoga style isn’t your best bet. Instead, it’s gentle yoga postures that can work wonders for OA. This is because stretches that support range of motion actually help open the joints and improve flexibility. The right yoga practice will depend on the type of OA you have, but experts say that staying loyal to it is likely to improve pain and tenderness.
As hinted at above, getting your heart rate up with some low-impact endurance activities is ideal for those with osteoarthritis. Just be sure that the activities you choose don’t stress out already-tender joints. The folks at Spine Health say swimming and water therapy are ideal options because the buoyancy helps reduce undue joint pressure. If this option doesn’t work for you, regular walking is another alternative that can get your blood flowing and help you break a sweat.
Knee Extensions & Leg Lifts
There are plenty of strength-building exercises you can do right at home. Healthline recommends knee extensions to build up your quadriceps and, in turn, support stability. It’s as easy as sitting in a chair and slowly extending one leg at a time, squeezing your thigh, then returning your leg back to its original position. You can engage your leg muscles in a similar way lying down and bringing your straight legs up to a 45-degree angle.
Restoring your joint health begins with setting up a free informational consult to get you on the path to an active, pain-free lifestyle.