6 questions to answer before exercising if you have arthritis

Did you give up physical activity due to pain? You should rethink that decision. Answer these 6 questions and start exercising, even with arthritis.

Last update: June 22, 2022

When we suffer from pain, the most common thing is to avoid training, especially if the joints are involved. However, perhaps the best option is to do the opposite, although you have to take the necessary precautions. Read on for the 6 questions you should answer before you start exercising if you have arthritis.

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints that causes pain, stiffness, or swelling, and often decreases our range of motion. To date, there are treatments to cope with it in a better way, but there is no definitive cure.

Being physically active safely can help improve mobility and reduce pain.

If you suffer from arthritis, it is important that you exercise. It will help you control discomfort, achieve greater flexibility and improve joint function.

Put another way, it will serve to improve the quality of life. However, you should take into account several factors before starting the training. For this reason, we propose these 6 questions to consider before exercising with arthritis.

1. What type of arthritis do you have?

There are more than 100 rheumatic diseases encompassed by arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common.

Others, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and gout, are also among the most common. It will be necessary to visit the doctor to be able to determine what is the condition that we suffer from and, consequently, prepare the appropriate training plan.

For example, if we suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory condition, flexibility exercises may be a good option. In the case of osteoarthritis, it should be considered that using heavy loads can aggravate the condition and generate more pain, so low-impact exercises are preferable.

According to a study carried out in 2004, it was concluded that the combination of modest weight loss plus moderate exercise in the medium term, provide General improvements in function, pain, and mobility performance in overweight older adults and knee osteoarthritis.

Being overweight worsens joint conditions, so exercise will also help by promoting the reduction of body fat.

2. What is the level of pain in the affected areas?

Physical activity can help reduce pain, but we must take into account which exercises are suitable according to our physical condition. If we suffer pain, we must set limitssince we should not suffer the exercise, but be able to do it in a pleasant and controlled way.

If during the activity the pain increases, we must stop and consult a doctor.

In 2021, a study on the effectiveness of strength exercises in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis was carried out. It consisted of a meta-analysis with 512 patients in a resistance exercise group and 498 patients in another control group. The results showed that, compared to the control group, resistance exercise significantly decreased disease activity score in patients.

3. How would you consider your current physical condition?

If we haven’t trained for some time, it’s best to start slow and intensify the activity little by little. Especially if the reason for abandonment was due to arthritis or some other condition.

We must mentalize ourselves that the results will be seen in the medium and long term. Keeping your joints moving and your muscles strong help reduce pain or prevent further damage.

4. What happens if I don’t do physical activity?

If we are not active, the joints can become stiffer. In addition, the pain could be increased.

It is best to exercise to strengthen the muscles. Otherwise, we will be weak and more prone to various types of injuries.

5. What exercises should I do to treat arthritis?

We will always have to take into account what type of arthritis we suffer from to develop an appropriate training plan. Therefore, it is essential to consult a specialist.

In general, the main exercises should have the following characteristics:

  • Range of motion: They serve to reduce stiffness and make joints more flexible. This is beneficial in reducing pain. They are usually performed in the warm-up or stretching phase and include head turns, shoulder movements, wrist rotations and finger stretches, among others.
  • Strengthening: They are to increase muscle strength, which helps protect the joints. We must be careful with the weight to use. It is always a good idea to start light and increase gradually.
  • resistance: aerobic exercise strengthens the heart. Activities such as going for a walk, riding a bike or doing some exercises under water require little effort and help increase your heart rate and work your muscles.
  • Flexibility: They combine movement, breathing and meditation. They can be yoga, pilates or other training of those characteristics that will allow us to achieve a greater range of movement and help us clear our minds.
  • Isometrics: they are resistance exercises in which there is no movement, but the muscles are tensed and the posture is maintained for a stipulated time. You work with your own body weight. Planks, hip lifts, lunges or static sit-ups, among others, can be performed.
Stretching is very important in arthritis. Especially for patients over 40 years old.

6. Should I go to the doctor?

Of course yes! We recommend seeing a physical therapist, who specializes in evaluating the condition and developing treatment for those who suffer from conditions that limit their ability to move, either due to injury or illness.

The specialist will be able to guide us on what we can do to improve and what we should avoid so as not to aggravate the condition.

Get moving with exercise for arthritis and forget about the pain!

Exercising if we suffer from arthritis, or even other conditions, is a great idea. On the one hand, it will help improve our physical condition, strengthen muscles, achieve more flexibility and reduce pain.

For the other, It will also boost our self-esteem. since we will feel better, we will be able to cope with daily activities in a good way and recover those that we had abandoned.

Remember to consult with your physical therapist to develop the appropriate program, according to the type of arthritis and your physical condition. Get moving and forget about the pain!