Why Exercise is Important for Arthritis

Matthew F Villani
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Dr. Matthew Villani provides expert foot care in Tavares, Altamonte Springs, and Lake Mary, FL.

If you have an arthritic condition, we understand the last thing you likely want to do is spend more time moving around and being active than you have to. Trust us, though, when we tell you that to exercise with arthritis is a quite important step of being healthy. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance we may recommend certain exercises for you to use as part of your treatment plan.

exercise is important for arthritisNot everyone is aware of this, but there are many different forms of arthritis. The most common, though, is osteoarthritis – the “wear and tear” variety that tends to develop as we age. In this particular condition, the protective lining normally found in joints has become worn down and doesn’t provide the same level of protection it previously had. As a results, affected joints can be quite painful to move and often have inflammation issues. (The actual word “arthritis” literally means “joint inflammation.”)

There are various treatment options when it comes to arthritis, with exercise being the best non-drug option for painful, arthritic joints. Let’s take a look at why this is the case.

Using exercise for arthritis achieves the following benefits:

  • Flexibility and range of motion – Gentle stretches and movements can improve flexibility in arthritic joints, which will reduce pain and keep you motivated to continue exercising.
  • Muscular strength – Strengthening your muscles helps support arthritic joints. If you are nervous or concerned about weight training, keep in mind that you do not have to lift really heavy weights to strengthen the supporting muscles.
  • Lower weight – You can reduce the amount of weight and force loads placed on your feet and ankle by using exercise as a way to keep your bodyweight in a healthy range.

Understanding why one should exercise with arthritis is a great starting point. Even better, though, is looking at how to properly implement an exercise program when your foot and ankle joints experience arthritic pain.

Generally, range-of-motion exercises can be used to keep affected joints from stiffening up, while also reducing swelling and alleviating some of the pain. It’s worth noting that not all exercise is necessarily good for you, especially if you have rheumatoid arthritis. High-impact movements like running, jumping, quick starts, stops, and direction changes can further damage inflamed joints.

Our doctors can help you create an appropriate exercise plan customized to your needs and starting condition. Some key components we will likely include are:

  • A relatively easy starting point. You shouldn’t push your body too soon when beginning any physical activity or workout regimen, and especially if arthritis is in the picture. We will determine a smart, safe starting point to keep you safe.
  • A gradual increase. Whereas you absolutely do need to start off easy, the goal is to gradually progress in levels of duration and intensity. This will help increase your muscle strength and burn calories, but don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you will have to push yourself to Olympic training levels!
  • Low-impact activities. Walking, yoga, swimming, and even cycling can all be excellent exercise options when you have arthritis. Our doctors may also recommend some resistance or weight training to help improve your muscle strength.

For additional information on exercising with arthritis, contact Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida. We can offer additional tips and help you create an effective workout plan. Of course, we also provide exceptional treatment services for arthritic conditions affecting the lower limbs, so give us a call at 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if you call from Lake County) or request an appointment online with any of our Florida offices today!

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