By Doyin, Pharmacist
Osteoarthritis simply means the inflammation or swelling and pain in one or more joints. It is caused by the loss of cartilage that protects the bones where they meet at the joint. Some risk factors include aging, obesity, family history, lack of exercise, injuries etc.
As there is no cure for arthritis, emphasis should be placed on modifiable risk factors, such as weight loss and regular exercise to reduce the wear and tear that comes with aging.
For those with osteoarthritis, regular exercise can help to ease the pain and stiffness associated with it. In fact, just one to two hours of moderate intensity exercise every week can have a high impact on the prevention of osteoarthritis or slow down its progression.
Explore flexibility exercises like double hip rotation where the knees are swayed side to side while lying with the back and feet flat on the floor, tai chi, leg/shoulder stretches etc. to help enhance mobility and relieve stiffness.
Strengthening exercises like overhead arm raises, squats, hip extensions, seated leg extensions etc. can help protect affected joints by maintaining muscle strength.
Low impact endurance exercises can also help improve osteoarthritis symptoms while boosting heart health and overall health. Some common examples of endurance exercises include swimming, biking, use of ellipticals, walking, hiking etc. The key to these exercises is to start low and go slow and then build up on the time and intensity as tolerable.
Remember, if certain joints are acting up, give them a break and focus on other areas for a day or two.
Also, exercises should be individual-specific to prevent aggravation of symptoms. Consult with a healthcare provider experienced in this field prior to commencing these exercises.