Degenerative joint disease can cause serious pain, stiffness, and swelling. However, if you avoid exercising because of pain, you risk losing muscle mass and possibly gaining extra weight due to inactivity. This could end up putting even more pressure on your joints. Your tendons, ligaments, and supporting structures could also deteriorate due to lack of use. Clearly, avoiding physical activity because of pain will only lead to more pain and further reduction in activity levels. The only way to break this vicious cycle is to start a physical fitness program that will help manage your pain and preserve joint structures.
The three essential components of an ideal physical fitness program should include flexibility, endurance, and strength training.
- Flexibility is improved by taking your muscles through their full range of motion and holding the position at or near extreme range of motion for a few seconds without experiencing too much discomfort. Avoid extreme movement of a joint affected by arthritis.
- Endurance is improved by performing aerobic exercises that are not too stressful on the joints such as walking, swimming, biking, and water aerobics. Endurance exercises are known to promote weight loss, which in turn reduces stress on your joints, particularly the hips and knees. Walking is a great way to reduce your hip arthritis symptoms which can be aggravated by sitting for extended periods of time.
- Strength training can be performed by using light weights that are appropriate for your fitness level as well as calisthenics or free hand exercises such as body weight squats to strengthen the muscles that surround and support the hip joint.
Carefully balancing the three aspects of physical fitness is a surefire way to improve your joint pain. The increased joint mobility and function may open new horizons, and you can set your sights on fitness goals beyond what you thought was possible. It must be stressed, however, that you must start slowly and consult your doctor before starting a new physical fitness routine.
Dr. Domb is a nationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the hip, shoulder and knee. A noted pioneer in advanced new techniques in hip arthroscopy, he delivers innovative treatments for patients with hip injuries such as impingement and labral tears. Dr. Domb is also an expert in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder and knee, adept in specialized techniques including arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and all-inside ACL reconstruction.