New Delhi: World Arthritis Day is celebrated each year on October 12 to raise awareness about joint diseases that cause suffering from pain and stiffness. There are various types of Arthritis and according to EULAR (European Alliance of Associations For Rheumatology) an estimated one-hundred million people who are undiagnosed. They try to cope with symptoms that are often overlooked.
This World Arthritis Day, Dr Manish Sontakke, Senior Joint Replacement Surgeon, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi and Dr Sachin Bhonsle, Senior Joint Replacement Surgeon, Fortis Hospitals, Mulund explain to us if Arthritis patients can exercise and if it is beneficial.
CAN ARTHRITIS PATIENTS EXERCISE?
Many Arthritis patients are not very enthusiastic about exercising due to acute pain at the joints. However, inactive life and no exercise can worsen Arthritis.
Of course, when stiff and painful joints are already bogging you down, the thought of exercising or simply walking might seem burdening. But these extra efforts will work wonders in managing the ailment.
You don’t need to run a marathon or swim as fast as an Olympic competitor to help reduce Arthritis symptoms, even moderate exercise can ease your pain and help you maintain a healthy weight. When Arthritis threatens to immobilize you, exercise keeps you moving.
WHAT CAUSES ARTHRITIS?
Arthritis is inflammation of a joint, or multiple joints, and causes pain and swelling. It slowly breaks down the body’s natural shock absorbers, the cartilage, a jelly-like substance between our bones and in our joints. This reduces the sticky synovial fluid which is the lubricant. Degraded cartilage and dried out synovial fluid is the start of Arthritis.
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE FOR ARTHRITIS PATIENTS
Massaging the joint through exercise helps get the nourishment of cartilage going. Exercise increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue.
HERE ARE SOME BENEFITS:
- Strengthens the muscles around your joints
- Helps you maintain bone strength
- Gives you more energy to get through the day
- Makes it easier to get a good night’s sleep
- Controls your body weight
- Enhances your quality of life
- Improves your balance
WHAT HAPPENS IF ARTHRITIS PATIENTS GIVE UP EXERCISING?
Not exercising weakens those supporting muscles, creating more stress on your joints. However, exercise doesn’t reverse damage that’s already done. It helps prevent Arthritis from getting worse, and it has the added benefit of keeping excess pounds off. That can make a huge difference on the joints that support most of the body’s weight – the hips and knees.
WHICH EXERCISES TO PERFORM AND WHICH TO AVOID?
Most of us believe that squatting and sitting on the ground is a good exercise for your knees and hips; in fact the maximum wear and tear of the joints occur during forward bending, squatting and sitting on the ground.
Also walking is a good exercise for the body but not for the knees.
Leg extensions with weights is the only exercise for your knees. Usually, we do 100 percent of the work by bending forwards, we technically never bend backwards to do anything, therefore back extension exercises help you strengthen your spine.
Having said that, it is important to speak to your doctor about which exercise will suit you. Make fitting exercises part of your treatment plan.
Now, what types of exercises are best for you depends on your type of Arthritis and which joints are involved. Your doctor or a physical therapist can work with you to find the exercise plan that gives you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.
Here are a few exercises that you can discuss with your doctor to include in your treatment regime. While the medications and supplements do their job to reduce inflammation, you must make efforts to commence some exercises:
Walking: This is an easy, low-impact aerobic exercise that nearly anyone can do regardless of fitness level. It strengthens your bones and muscles, increases your range of motion, and shifts pressure and weight from joints and muscles to reduce Arthritis pain.
Water Workouts: Water exercises can help minimize pain and reduce stress on the joints since water supports the body’s full weight. Water offers 12 times the resistance of air — meaning water workouts can effectively help you build muscle and strength while improving balance and range of motion.
Yoga: This is low-impact exercise that can help you build strength, improve joint function, reduce joint inflammation, and minimize Arthritis-related pain. However, finding a qualified Yoga instructor is important. Your instructor can show you a gentle, easy Yoga routines that involve movements and poses that protect your joints, while improving your strength & flexibility. Try to avoid poses that require you to balance on one foot or that bend joints more than 90 degrees.
Hand Stretches: Arthritis in the hands can make it difficult to perform repetitive everyday tasks like typing on the computer or eating with dining utensils, due to joint pain and stiffness. Hand stretches and exercises can make joints in your hands more flexible and improve the range of motion to reduce pain.
Strength Training: Strength training exercises like weightlifting, push-ups, and squats help you strengthen bones and muscles to support joints, while also reducing pain, stiffness, and swelling.