Wondering about exercise when you have arthritis? Instincts may tell you to avoid exercise, but you may be surprised at the answer to the question: "Does exercise help or hurt my arthritis?" Listen to Summit Orthopedics' experts share the insights they've gained in their years caring for those struggling with arthritis symptoms. Featuring arthritis specialists Kristoffer Breien, MD and Jonathan Biebl, MD. For more information or to find an expert, visit us at summitortho.com.
Exercise and arthritis are very much something that go hand in hand. A lot of times arthritis can be due to effects of exercise. Long-distance runners, previous injuries from sports or athletics can all lead to arthritis. So that's a piece of this whole puzzle as well, but essentially exercise is beneficial in arthritis. It's one of actually the most successful treatments for arthritis when it comes to non-surgical treatments. And what that entails is muscle strength and mobility of the joint. So if you start losing those things, then the symptoms that go with arthritis, the pain, the instability, the difficulty with walking or other activities are amplified. So truly exercise in the right way can limit the symptoms that go with arthritis, can limit pain and can actually lead to better function, even in the setting of arthritis. Having locations like YMCAs that cater towards arthritis exercise and exercise in older individuals is actually extremely important to me. Because a lot of these things aren't common knowledge, they're not inherent, just, you know, things that everyone knows. And so having somebody that can help guide you through, whether it be an exercise class, or a trainer or a fitness instructor that can give you specific, you know, exercises that are helpful. Really, it's an extremely important piece to have exercise as a part of your treatment and your activity level to just maintain your joints. So finding the right place to do that, and finding support groups, or people that are also going through it, or having someone who has that knowledge base is very important to making sure that you get the most out of your joint. - Our arthritis water exercise classes are amazing because most of the people in that class are seeking that class because they are dealing chronic arthritis in their bodies. People will say in class that they, without class they'll wake up throughout the night. But when they are in class, they can sleep though the night or they notice that their daily life improves and so they make these class connections with other people who are dealing with these same issues that they face everyday in their life. And they have that, the support and the network, so it's a very social group. It's a really cool way to see people support each other as in a group exercise class that way. - When you are managing arthritis, there are exercises that can exacerbate or irritate arthritis and there are exercises that can be more beneficial. There's not really any exercise outside of maybe being a very aggressive distance runner that's actually going to progress arthritis quicker than otherwise. It's a process that essentially happens on its own so regardless of what you're doing to it, that process will slowly get worse. So the idea is to find exercises that don't cause the irritation and the symptoms. The things that typically do that most, or irritate the knee most, are high impact activities which are running activities, jumping activities. All those things put a lot of stress especially on the knee joint itself. Typically avoiding those are beneficial things to avoid. Exercises that are helpful are essentially the exact opposite. They are low impact exercises. The best ones are cycling, so whether that be stationary bikes, recumbent bikes or general, you know, bike riding. Elliptical machines are very low impact and then the pool is another great option. So that can involve things like actual swimming laps, water aerobics, or as simple as just walking in the shallow end of a pool because it takes a lot of the stress off of that joint when you are in the water and you have that buoyancy.