Currently, in this country, over 40 million people have been given some kind of diagnosis of arthritis. By definition, arthritis refers to any irritation and/or degeneration of the smooth joint surfaces of the body. Arthritis can range from the very mild, in which there is vague, generalized aching, to the very severe, in which case there is significant pain, swelling and disability.
There are several different types of arthritis, and they all act somewhat differently on joints and joint tissues. It is therefore critical to get the proper diagnosis so that you know what you are dealing with and what activities can be potentially harmful. One of the most common and frequent locations for osteoarthritis, the garden-variety arthritis, is the knee. This condition can affect almost every type of activity that involves weight bearing and bending on the knees. Knowing what type of arthritis you have and to what degree of severity will have a direct impact on the types, and level of exercises you can perform.
One of the most aggravating and potentially damaging forms of exercises to any joint, much less and arthritic one is the high-impact exercise. This includes jogging, jumping sports, and fast walking in uneven ground. Activities that produce high-impact forces on the knees can damage joint cartilage and accelerated the wear-and-tear process. The cartilage that covers our joint surfaces is a wondrous thing, providing cushion and protection, yet being exceptionally durable.
Exercises that fit into the low-impact category can include swimming, biking (both stationary and regular), and walking on flat and relatively forgiving surfaces such as hard packed gravel. These types of exercise activities can provide the necessary cardiovascular results desired and yet do so in a fashion that protects the knee joint surfaces against excessive, unwanted wear and tear. Using light weights for general toning is acceptable.
Water, water everywhere.
We, as humans, are composed of 60 percent water. Water exists in every cell of all our tissues and joint cartilage is no exception. Joint cartilage is essentially 80 percent water, and as we age, this percentage decreases, making the cartilage more brittle and susceptible to injury and damage. We can become dehydrated during periods of exercise, and those with compromised joint cartilage are at even greater risk for damage. Proper hydration is important at all times, especially when arthritis is involved. The knee joints absorb tremendous energy loads during physical exercise, so proper hydration can help maximize the health of the cartilage.
Exercise for the long haul
You’ll want to develop an exercise regimen that you can live with over a long period of time. Combining different exercise patterns, such as biking one day and swimming the next day and walking the third day can provide variability in the routine, keeping you interested, as well as provide a comprehensive exercise routine with maximum benefits and protection. In persons with arthritis, keeping the joints moving is very important, in maximizing joint health and reducing stiffness.
Chisholm’s expertise in nursing, orthopedics and surgery spans more than thirty years. He holds multiple national certifications in these specialties. His goal is to empowering people through education and information to become more engaged, proactive and responsible in their orthop