While it seems counter-intuitive, exercising is one of the best things that you can do to help prevent arthritis from getting worse. By getting active, you help tone and build muscle strength, which in turn helps support joints – reducing pain and stiffness. Regular exercise also helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight, which reduces stress on arthritic and painful joints.
However, in order to ensure that you reap the benefits of exercise without causing damage, you want to make sure that you don’t hurt your joints when you exercise. Before you get started, ask your primary care doctor or orthopaedic specialist what kind of activity would be good for you.
These three tips can help you exercise safely:
- Pace yourself, especially if you haven’t exercised for a while. Start slowly, and don’t push yourself too hard. Then work your way up to where you can exercise for a longer time or do the exercise with more effort.
- Use medicine. If your joint pain gets worse after exercise, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain medicine before you exercise, such as acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (for example, Advil or Motrin), naproxen (for example, Aleve), or aspirin (for example, Bayer or Bufferin). After you’re done, ice the joints that hurt.
- Rest your joints if they are swollen. For example, if your knees are swollen, don’t use the stairs for a few days. Walk a shorter distance, and switch to swimming or riding an indoor bike.
Learn to distinguish between sore muscles and joint pain. If your muscles are sore, you can safely exercise through the soreness. It’s not safe to continue to exercise if your joints are in pain.
If you have been exercising and experiencing joint pain that lasts for more than a day after you exercise, you need to:
- Rest the joint until your pain gets back to the level that is normal for you.
- Exercise for less time or with less effort.
- Try another exercise that doesn’t cause pain.
Learn How to Get Back on the Move: Free Seminar Nov. 8
If you – or someone you know – has a nagging upper body pain, the Bon Secours Orthopaedic Institute is here to answer the call. Our panel of experts will address your concerns about orthopaedic injuries and conditions. You’ll learn about prevention, treatment options and the latest trends in orthopaedic care. This program is designed as a forum for Hampton Roads residents to interact with health care providers and discover the latest treatments for a variety of common orthopaedic issues. Register for this event today! More at bshr.com.