Thursday, January 5, 2012

How To Exercising When You Have Arthritis

    My Great Grandmother from Luxembourg often said, "My only regret in life is that I wasn't kinder to my joints." She lived to be ninety-six years old. Where it is difficult to think we could prevent osteoarthritis, the severity could be lessened by making good choices for joints from childhood through adulthood to decrease the pain we have in our "golden years". The choices we make early on are definitely felt later on down the road in later years.

    The important aspects of childhood bone/joint health consist of a healthy diet, consuming fruits, vegetables, and dairy products daily. Low impact sports and physical activities protect joints from excessive wearing of the joint cartilage. Proper protective equipment is important to prevent injuries to the bones and joints. Investing in equipment such as good running shoes, helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and shin guards are an investment in your child's or your own bone/joint future. Even with preventive measures in place, care must be taken, as too much training can easily lead to injuries. If you or your child is involved in high impact sports, you must keep a watchful eye out for early signs of joint/bone problems. When in doubt whether damage is taking place or not, consult an orthopedic specialist to make a good determination as to whether rest or some other intervention is indicated.

    Some examples of low impact exercise that are less damaging to cartilage are swimming, using a cross country ski machine, stair stepper, elliptical machine, bicycling, roller skating, roller blading, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, ice skating, low impact aerobics, golf, hiking, and ballroom dancing.

    Excess weight must be avoided throughout life to keep the joints healthy because for every pound a person is overweight, it exerts four times the force on the cartilage in the weight bearing joints such as the hip and knee. Therefore, every pound counts towards wearing away our cartilage faster or slower, especially in your hips and knees and that choice is yours to make. The difficult part is that people gain weight more easily in later years and then exercising becomes more difficult. Difficulties with exercising then make losing weight more difficult and then increases the speed at which cartilage wears down.

    Despite making the best choices, arthritis pain can still plague people as the years roll on. Medications can be used to reduce pain with the unfortunate side effects or removal from the market to worry about. In my experience as an occupational therapist, I have seen good results in relieving arthritis pain through the sequence of heat, massage, and Biofreeze to manage arthritis pain without or in addition to medication.

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