MountainStar Health - July 16, 2018

Loosen up those joints!

Exercising is probably the last thing you want to do when your joints are aching from osteoarthritis (OA). Yet, exercise may be the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing arthritis pain and improving overall joint function, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

OA is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when the rubbery cartilage covering the ends of your bones begin to wear down, resulting in inflam­mation, swelling and pain. Almost half of adults age 65 and older suffer from OA, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the pain and stiff­ness can make it difficult to perform daily tasks.

For those living with OA, the Arthritis Foundation recommends doing a variety of exercises that promote flexibility, strength or endurance. Flexibility exercises are helpful for decreasing pain and stiffness by improving your overall range of motion. Muscle strengthening exercises help support and protect your joints, while endurance or aerobic exercises like swimming, walking and cycling increase energy and stamina.

Another benefit of aero­bic exercise? It can help keep your weight down. Excess body weight can cause OA to progress and worsen. In fact, every pound gained adds the equivalent of four pounds of stress on your knees and six pounds of pressure on your hips, the Arthritis Foundation says.

If you're tired of feeling limited by arthritis, exercise may be a solution. Ask your physician or a physical therapist to advise you on how to get started. Below are some simple exercises that target the most common arthritis pain points. Remember, if a stretch or move causes sharp pain, stop immediately.