Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis.1 The degenerative joint disease is due to a breakdown of cartilage. Arthritis can occur in many joints including the hands, hips, knees, lower back, neck and shoulders.
OA can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in joints. OA is a chronic condition and occurs over time as the cartilage in the joints wears away. OA is frequently associated with older age, but can start in your 20s or 30s.2 Due to the symptoms of OA, physical activity can become more difficult but exercise can actually help alleviate some of these symptoms.
Exercise can help to improve joint pain and improve range of motion. The key to working out when you have OA is to select exercises that you can do comfortably and perform consistently. One of the most effective ways to reduce the pressure placed on your joints, especially those in the lower extremity, is to maintain a healthy weight. With each pound of excess weight lost, there is a four-fold decrease in the load on your joints.3
Oftentimes, OA joint pain can make high impact activities, such as running, too painful. However there are low impact activities that are great options, including biking, swimming or walking. Those with joint pain may also see benefits from varying their routine – such as walking one day and switching to swimming the next day – to avoid joint overuse from repetition. It is important to note that it is recommended to consult with your doctor before starting a new workout routine or trying new exercises.
Keep in mind that a lack of exercise can actually make joints even more painful and stiff. When you do not exercise, the muscles that support your joints are weaker and can cause more stress on your joints. Remember to trust your body and do not push your joints too far. Easing into a new routine and progressing slowly with intensity and duration is key. If you would like more guidance for workouts with arthritis, please find your local Athletico to request an appointment.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. “Arthritis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Apr. 2018, cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm.
2. “Osteoarthritis Causes.” arthritis.org, www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/causes.php.
3. Messier, Stephen P., et al. “Weight Loss Reduces Knee‐Joint Loads in Overweight and Obese Older Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis.” Freshwater Biology, Wiley/Blackwell (10.1111), 28 June 2005, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/art.21139.