Post by our Knee specialist Jonny Corner:
I Have been hearing a lot of confusion from people regarding exercising with arthritis.
I have heard clients mention that they rest and avoid exercise when they experience pain from arthritis.
I have also worryingly heard that many clients regard arthritis as something they have no control over and therefore avoid exercising altogether as they think it will just get worse anyway.
Arthritis (osteoarthritis) is a condition where the cartilage surface wears down gradually over time.
Cartilage acts as a buffer/shock absorber between bones, however unlike other tissues does not have a blood supply which means it does not heal when damaged. It’s best to think of the cartilage in your knee like the tyres on your car.
The more miles you do in your car the more worn the tyres will be and it’s the same for your joint. Now, It is true that you can’t change the condition of the cartilage of your joint
HOWEVER, you can limit the progression of the degeneration and the only way to do this is by EXERCISING.
The first and most important aspect of managing arthritis is to improve/maintain the movement you have. Joints have a fluid inside them called synovial fluid, this fluid lubricates the joint so that it can move freely and also nourishes the joint.
If the joint is not moving it’s full distance these areas that are not nourished wear down quicker.
Quick tip: to help improve your knee movement sit on the floor/ bed with your legs out In front, put a plastic bag underneath your foot and slide your foot up and down, bending it at the knee. Try this for 10x reps, 3 x sets, 3x per day.
Strength is also very important for arthritic joints.
The stronger the muscles are that surround the joint the more stable the joint will be and the less likely it is to degenerate as fast. It is particularly important to get the knee as straight as possible as if it is limited by even only 10% this can cause much more stress on the knee cap.
Cardiovascular exercise is also very important to keep your heart healthy, reduce weight to take strain of the joints and to strengthen your bones.
Swimming is a great way to exercise as it takes the stress off your joints whilst keeping them moving and working your heart all at the same time.
If you have osteoporosis too though it is important to do some weight bearing activities i.e walking or cycling too to maintain bone density.
So don’t hold your hands up and admit defeat there is plenty that can be done to ensure you are able to keep your joints in the best condition possible and do the things you enjoy doing for the longest time possible.
If you have anymore questions about arthritis please don’t hesitate to contact me 🙂
(aka the newly married physio)
And if you’re worried about your knee pain, take a look at some more blogs with helpful tips and advice in http://www.paulgoughphysio.com/blog/knee-joint-pain/