Arthritis is a common condition that affects a number of people. There are two different types of arthritis – Osteoarthrosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although different, both forms are often characterised by joint pain, fatigue and lack of energy leading to less mobility.

Physical activity is key for those with arthritis as it is able to reduce susceptibility to muscle weakness, balance problems and further illness which can be caused by lack of activity.

With physical activity, you are able to improve your strength, posture, joint function and mobility. Although those with arthritis may find movement painful, it is possible to adapt exercise to ensure that this is not the case (it just takes good physical activity knowledge and a little imagination). Exercise at HSW will be adapted accordingly for those that find gripping, kneeling or bending challenging. This will mean you are able to strengthen your muscles around the effected joints. Strengthening the muscles that neighbour the effected joints will take the stress off your joints, resulting in less daily pain and more motion.

Flexibility is a contributing factor to better daily function, and is often an issue for those with arthritis. Physical activity and stretching have been proven to improve flexibility by lengthening fibres in the muscles. Both exercise and stretching also realign muscle fibres into an optimal position for movement. These changes reduce the perception of stiffness in areas affected by arthritis.

Those with arthritis often have less fluid in the joints than those who are not affected by the condition. Having less fluid between the joints causes a buildup of friction during movement. The buildup of friction is one of the factors which creates the feeling of pain and stiffness. It is widely recognised that physical activity instigates the joints themselves to release more fluid, therefore reducing the friction upon movement of the joints. This ultimately reduces the level of pain which means you are able to move with more freedom.

References:

Ellapen. T. J &Paul. Y. (2017) ‘Exercise-induced physiological lubrication mechanisms dissipating arthritic joint pain’, South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation – Exercise-induced physiological lubrication mechanisms dissipating arthritic joint pain.

Exeter University Sport and Exercise Science department – clinical exercise prescription – arthritis