Osteoarthritis: Elaine reveals her experience of the condition
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Each joint in the body is surrounded by soft tissue called the synovial membrane, which produces fluid enabling the bones to move past one another fairly smoothly. According to the informative charity Arthritis Foundation, a key way to improve synovial fluid is to exercise. By getting the heart pumping, blood circulation is improved around the body, including the joints.
Exercise enables the synovial fluid to be exposed to a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients.
Research also indicates that moving the body activates genes associated with rebuilding cartilage.
And movement also contributes to strengthening the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the joint.
Exercising safely with osteoarthritis
Another leading charity, Versus Arthritis, pointed out that adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity daily.
Slight discomfort whilst exercising and some soreness in the muscles afterwards is completely normal, especially if you’ve not exercised in a while.
However, experiencing significant pain during exercise or thereafter is a warning sign that you have overdone it.
Any hot and swollen joints are best treated with an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas.
The charity elaborated: “Put this on the affected joint for around 15-20 minutes at a time.”
If you feel better the next day, Versus Arthritis encourages you to “start again, but slowly”.
Should the pain last much longer, or there is a sudden onset of pain once you start exercising again, you could have an injury.
“If the symptoms of pain, heat and swelling continue for more than a few days you should contact your GP or healthcare team,” the charity added.
To help reduce the risk of injury, incorporate five to 10-minute warm-ups and cool-downs into your exercise regime.
The benefits of exercise:
- Improve your muscle strength which keeps your joints strong and well-supported
- Reduce stiffness in your joints
- Help your balance
- Improve energy levels and feelings of tiredness
- Help you manage your weight
- Boost your mood.
One of the most effective activities to try is swimming, which can help keep you fit while being easy on the joints.
Brisk walking can also be beneficial, as is cycling, which can be done in a spinning class.
Jogging, however, can be challenging for the joints if you do not try strengthening exercises before starting.
Strengthening exercises can be performed in pilates or tai chi.
There are specific strengthening exercises you can try for different areas for the body.
For targeted strengthening exercises for the knees, hip, or the elbows, visit Versus Arthritis.
If you are unsure whether you have arthritis or not, do seek the support of your doctor.
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