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PAIN & EXERCISE

Research has proven that exercise has many benefits for arthritis sufferers of all ages. According to the Arthritis Society, people with arthritis need a comprehensive therapy and fitness program. Just remember to talk to your doctor or physiotherapist before you start any exercise program.

The benefits of participating in a regular exercise routine are many. Regular exercise can help you increase strength, energy, and flexibility. These improvements may, in turn, enable you to get back to some of the activities that you couldn’t do previously, because of your pain.10

When beginning an exercise program, remember to start slow.10 There are five different types of exercise that you should consider incorporating into your program:

Range of motion exercises maintain or restore normal joint movement and relieve stiffness. Joints affected by arthritis need to be moved through their complete range of motion at least once daily. Ankle circles, heel/toe lifts, and knee raises are great ways to exercise your range of motion. Visit the “Tips for Living Well” section on www.arthritis.ca for more information on range of motion (flexibility) exercises. You can also download the Physical Activity and Arthritis guide.
Stretching helps maintain or restore normal flexibility to the joint’s muscles and tendons. Because tight and shortened muscles contribute to arthritis pain, it’s important to help lengthen muscle fibres with slow sustained stretches.

Yoga can help to lengthen your muscles. Not only will it help you improve your flexibility, which is important, but yoga will also help you learn the relaxing benefits of deep breathing.10

Here’s an example of a stretching exercise to get you started: lie flat on your back with your toes pointed and your arms above your head. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat three times.

Strengthening exercises help build up the muscle around joints to keep them stable and supportive. Seated leg lifts, backward shoulder press, and chest press are a few examples of strengthening exercises. Visit the “Tips for Living Well” section on www.arthritis.ca for more information on strength-building exercises. You can also download the Physical Activity and Arthritis guide.
Endurance exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming, and dancing use the large muscles of your body in rhythmic continuous motions to contribute to your overall fitness.

Swimming results in very little to no impact; so it is easy on sore muscles, joints and bones.10

Body awareness exercises such as yoga and tai chi promote balance, posture, and breathing. Tufts University School of Medicine found that patients with knee osteoarthritis who engage in regular Tai Chi exercise, improve physical function and experience less pain.
10. Canadian Pain Coalition. What are the negative effects of pain? Can I do anything myself? http://www.canadianpaincoalition.ca/index.php/en/help-centre/conquering-pain/effects-of-pain, accessed June 8, 2012.