This Morning: Dr Ellis on how exercise can help arthritis
Arthritis is a debilitating condition that affects millions of Britons.
Depending on the type you have it can cause joint pain, inflammation and mobility problems.
This may deter arthritis sufferers from taking part in any exercise, however, it is often recommended to patients that they keep active in some way to help ease symptoms.
One expert spoke with Express.co.uk about how to do this safely.
Carol Gallatt, who deals with GP referrals at Active Life leisure centres, shared some “key” tips when it comes to arthritis and exercise.
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“Don’t exercise when joints are inflamed – when in a state of acute pain,” she said.
“Try to get an input from a physiotherapist or osteopath for dos and don’ts – they will be able to identify muscular imbalances and their feedback would be useful for trying to decide where the focus should be.
“If a health professional has prescribed painkillers, it may be beneficial to take them before exercise to enable exercise to take place; however, care must be taken to ensure that masking the pain doesn’t make a problem worse by doing too much exercise.
“Depending on diagnosis and location of joint pain will dictate specific rehab exercises and the type of exercise to be undertaken.
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“Rest and recovery is an important part of any exercise programme as it gives joints time to recover and repair.”
She recommended some specific types of exercises to try if you have arthritis or joint pain.
Water based exercises
Water based aerobic exercise such as swimming, water walking and gentle aqua aerobics can help as they take pressure off joints as there is either no impact or low impact; however, care with range of movement (ROM) at joints is required, said Ms Gallatt.
“Exercising in water is perceived as easier and the movement of the water assists with mobilisation and therefore ROM, but ROM of painful joints needs to be controlled to ensure they’re not taken into hyper-extension and potentially increased pain.
“This will become more apparent once on dry land as gravity pulls on the body.”
Non-impact or low-impact exercise
Non-impact aerobic exercise such as cycling, elliptical trainer or rower at light resistance if gym option is preferred.
Ms Gallatt explained: “Low-impact circuit based exercise will reduce the duration of stress on joints as they provide an all over workout that can be adapted for the individual.”
Static resistance work i.e. lift a weight and hold it; however, care with anyone with high blood pressure as these types of muscular contractions (isometric) can raise blood pressure, said Ms Gallatt.
“The reason for isometric contractions is because it avoids having to continuously work through a painful ROM, for example, instead of performing 10 repetitions, perform one rep and hold.
“Duration of hold and level of resistance are important factors for monitoring progression.”
She added: “Modified Pilates can help to stabilise and strengthen joints.”
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