Osteoarthritis: Exercising regularly can 'help with inflammation'
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OA is when the cartilage in your joints – a firm but slippery substance that allows your joints to move – breaks down gradually. Over time, if the cartilage wears down fully it can lead to bone rubbing on bone. But there are several exercises that can slow down this deterioration. Which exercise you do may depend on where you are in the process.
Arthritis Action explains: “It doesn’t really matter what type of exercise you do but you should try to find a type of exercise which you enjoy and that you are likely to continue.
Enjoyment will obviously depend on a number of factors. If you’re older and have the condition, doing intense exercise may be unenjoyable — as you might expect.
However, there are more simple exercises that you can do. Express.co.uk spoke to one expert about some of the simplest exercises.
Ian Rees, a representative of Our Health Hub, a private organisation that offers personalised healthcare, suggested one exercise that you can even do from your dining table.
He said: “A great functional strengthening exercise is a sit to stand from a dining chair. Focus should be on slow controlled movements on both standing and sitting.
“Building strength and control will also have the bonus of improving balance, decreasing risk of falls and reducing the instance of trauma-related pain in conjunction with the OA pain.”
Although exercise can’t reverse the damage that’s been done to the joints affected by arthritis, it is recognised by health experts as vital for pain management.
According to the Arthritis Foundation: “Exercise is considered the most effective, non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis.”
A healthy amount of exercise can help to reduce inflammation, the process which is responsible for the destruction of OA joints.
Phil Evans, a lead physiotherapist at Urban Body, who was also an official physiotherapist at the Commonwealth Games, said: “Movement gets the blood flowing, which is our best and most natural form of anti-inflammation.”
For osteoarthritis patients, he recommended walking and several other activities.
“Walking is the easiest and most practical way to get healthy movement daily but cycling and swimming are great choices too,” said Evans.
Exercise can be daunting for people with arthritis, especially if they haven’t done any in a long time.
On their website, Versus Arthritis writes: “If you haven’t done much exercise for a while you might want to get advice from a physiotherapist.
“They’ll be able to help you work out a program that works for you. The most important thing is to start gently and build up gradually.”
But physiotherapist Phil Evans emphasised the importance of making sure you have a balance of strengthening exercises and flexibility.
He said: “Although it’s easy to become more flexible by stretching, it’s also important to incorporate strength training into your routine.
“Achieving good mobility AND strength is the secret to combating arthritis.”
Versus Arthritis recommends similar activities as Phil Evans but also adds that doing walking laps in the shallow end of a pool as a way to strengthen your leg muscles.
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