For people suffering from osteoarthritis, it may be tempting to exercise less or even stop exercising altogether. Other people, on the other hand, may want to carry out their activities as if nothing is wrong. Instead, there should be a balance: continue to exercise on a regular basis while adapting your activities. Here are some information and advice to help you maintain a healthy and active life, despite the limitations imposed by osteoarthritis.
Do you suffer from osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis can lead to joint pain and difficulty performing certain movements, which can make it less interesting to enjoy certain sports. However, it is still important to keep moving when suffering from this condition to experience the benefits of physical activity:
- Better joint mobility: Exercise strengthens tendons and muscles, two components of joints;
- Improved muscle tone: Strong muscles help you move well and carry out your daily activities;
- Better weight control: Excess weight puts undue strain on the joints;
- Reducing stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety increase muscle tension and potentially joint pain;
- Better sleep.
Some advice to adapt your activities:
It is important to keep moving despite osteoarthritis, but it must be done in a responsible, appropriate and careful manner. Here are a few practical tips to help you choose your physical activity and do it properly.
- Choose an activity you love
To experience the full benefits of physical activity, it is important that it be done regularly. That’s why it’s best to choose a sport that you enjoy and are comfortable doing. Less strenuous activities or activities that put less pressure on the joints are advised: cycling, running (following certain recommendations), yoga, tai chi, aquatic activities (swimming, aquafit).
- Avoid activities that put pressure on the joints.
On the other hand, it is better to avoid certain sports involving high impact to the joints (when performing a movement, sharp changes of direction or speed) and requiring many sudden and jerky movements. For example, sports such as downhill skiing, tennis, field hockey, soccer, sport dance and martial arts should be done with moderation and great care. Indeed, the stress that is then put on the joints could be counterproductive.
- Tailor the duration and intensity to your abilities.
Whatever activity you choose, it should be done on a regular basis, but with restraint and tailored to your abilities. Shorter, less intense sessions are preferable, and you should avoid pushing your body to its limits. The conditions surrounding the activity are also important. For example, if you choose to run, soft ground and suitable tracks are preferable to hard surfaces such as asphalt.
- Get proper equipment
There is no equipment designed to provide complete joint protection. However, make sure you choose good quality shoes suitable for your sport. In addition, wearing a stabilizing knee brace can help in some cases of knee osteoarthritis. Although it doesn’t protect you from impacts, it helps stabilize the joint and reduces the risk of injury and associated pain. Visit your doctor or physical therapist to discuss this solution.