Nearly one in every four American adults is living with arthritis. It’s characterized by joint inflammation and pain — and it can make every movement difficult and uncomfortable.
Although there’s no cure for arthritis, May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. And this year, we’re taking a closer look at one of the best ways to manage arthritis symptoms and improve your quality of life: exercise.
Craig Dushey, MD, and our team at Manhattan Orthopedics specialize in arthritis care, and we’re here to help you find a balanced, joint-friendly exercise program to help you feel better. Here’s how to get started.
Work with an arthritis specialist
If you aren’t working with an orthopedic specialist to manage your arthritis, now’s the time to start. Dr. Dushey is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, and he works with patients to develop the best arthritis treatment plan for their needs.
He can recommend nonsurgical interventions, like medication and physical therapy, along with a personalized exercise program based on your specific needs and goals. He can provide guidance on proper form, stretching, and other pain management techniques to help you get the most from your exercises.
Choose joint-friendly activities
People with arthritis should avoid high-impact activities, like running and jumping. These activities put extra stress on your joints, and they can exacerbate arthritis symptoms.
Instead, focus on low-impact exercises that are gentler on your joints. Consider activities such as walking, swimming, water aerobics, or cycling. Yoga and tai chi can also be great options, because they help improve flexibility and reduce stress.
Incorporate strength training
You should include strength training along with aerobic exercise. Strength training helps build muscle mass, improve joint stability, and even reduce your risk of injury.
Focus on exercises that target the major muscle groups, like your legs, back, chest, and arms. You can do bodyweight exercises or use resistance bands and light weights to add resistance and increase the challenge.
Start slow and build stamina
If you're new to exercise or you’ve been inactive for a while, it's important to start slow and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Building stamina over time helps keep exercise enjoyable and lower your risk of injury.
Aim to get about 30 minutes of low-impact exercise three to four times per week. As your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts.
When you exercise, remember to listen to your body, and take breaks whenever you need. If you experience any pain during or after exercise, stop what you’re doing and seek guidance from our team.
Learn proper form
Using proper form during exercise is essential to prevent injury and maximize the benefits of your workout. If you aren’t sure how to perform an exercise correctly, ask Dr. Dushey. He may recommend working with a personal trainer or physical therapist to provide joint-friendly instruction and modifications.
Include stretching and flexibility exercises
Don’t forget to warm up before working out and cool down afterward. Incorporate gentle stretches into your exercise routine to help improve your range of motion and reduce stiffness in your joints. Consider adding yoga a few times a week to build flexibility.
It’s no secret that arthritis can be a painful and debilitating condition, but engaging in a balanced, joint-friendly exercise program can make a big difference.
Ready to get started? Book an appointment at Manhattan Orthopedics online, or call one of our offices in Astoria, Brooklyn, or Manhattan, New York, today.