5 Exercises For Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects about 15% of the Australian population. Put simply; it’s a chronic condition
that causes joint tissue to break down, resulting in the bones rubbing together. This can cause discomfort in mild cases and severe pain in
more serious cases and lead to considerable swelling and potentially loss of motion.

While osteoarthritis can affect any joint,  it most commonly appears in the knee, hip, foot, and spine.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are many treatments and methods that can slow down the progress of the disease and aim to
keep arthritis in the earlier, more manageable stages.

One of the tried-and-tested methods is physical therapy. A range of exercises can help strengthen the muscles around the joints, alleviating
the stress that’s put on the joints in day-to-day activities. As well as relieving stress, the focus of these exercises is also to relieve
joint pain.

Podiatrists generally recommend a combination of strengthening exercises and aerobic exercises to achieve maximum benefits. Strengthening
exercises refer to movements that build either a single muscle or a group of muscles, while aerobic exercise is a range of motion exercise,
otherwise known as cardiovascular conditioning, aimed at improving overall health.

Below are five easy exercises that can be done at home to help osteoarthritis.

Strengthening Exercises For Osteoarthritis

Lower Limb Push | Sit-To-Stand

The sit-to-stand is a versatile lower limb pushing movement that can be completed with limited equipment almost anywhere. This variation
should be used to build confidence with the movement and can be progressed easily by removing the chair or adding weight.

How to Complete a Sit-to-Stand Squat:

  • Stand in a comfortable stance with feet slightly pointed out
  • Cross your arms: opposite hands to shoulders
  • Opening the hips (knee’s out), sit down, so your bottom touches the chair/bench then stand back up again
  • Keep your chest proud and pointed forwards with back straight
  • Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of this movement

Upper Limb Pull | Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

The single-arm dumbbell row is a fantastic functional movement that recruits key muscles on your arm and posterior chain. The single-arm
row can be loaded to a specific weight to suit your capacity. If you do not have a dumbbell at home, you can easily replace this with an
old milk container or another item in your house you can grasp!

How to perform the Single Arm Bent Over Dumbbell Row:

  • Set up in front of a stable surface with a dumbbell.

  • Grab the dumbbell in one hand and stand in a wide stance or a split stance (with the opposite foot of the hand with the dumbbell forward).

  • Start by bracing through your core, keeping a neutral spine. Draw your shoulder blade back and down and draw your elbow to the roof.
  • Control the dumbbell back down to the start position
  • Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of this movement on each side

Upper Limb Push | Incline Push-Up

The Bench Push Up is an upper-body pushing exercise requiring equipment other than yourself and a stable surface. This movement can be
progressed through choosing a lower surface, i.e. flow, or regressed through completing on a surface with less incline, i.e. wall.

How to perform the Bench Push Up:

  • Stand in front of a bench or other stable surface with your feet shoulder-width apart (Note: the lower the surface, the harder the
    exercise will be).
  • Start by placing your hands just outside shoulder-width apart on the surface and lift your heels off the ground.
  • Brace through your core and keep your back straight. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the surface.
  • Just before you body reaches the surface, press yourself back to the start position, maintaining a straight back.
  • Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of this movement


Lower Limb Hinge/Single Leg | Step-Up

The step up is a single leg movement that can be performed by most physical fitness levels by adding load or increasing/decreasing the
height of the step where possible. 

How to perform the step up:

  • Start by setting up in front of a step at the prescribed height.
  • Place one foot on top of the step, lean forward, so your nose is over your toes.
  • Brace your core, keep your back straight, push through your heel and stand up onto the step with your opposite foot.
  • Step down using the step you stepped up with and control down to the start position.
  • Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of this movement on each side


Core | Plank

The plank is a common core exercise used to strengthen the Anti-Extension pattern of our core. The plank can simply be progressed by
holding the movements for a longer duration. 

How to perform the Plank:

  • Lie on your stomach on a comfortable surface

  • With your hands just outside of shoulder-width and forearms on the ground, dig your toes into the ground, straighten your knees into full
    extension and lift your body off the ground, pushing up onto your forearms
  • Hold this position with a neutral or slightly flexed spine whilst breathing into your stomach for the prescribed amount of time

Aerobic Exercise For Osteoarthritis

Aerobic exercise has been found to increase mobility and help relieve the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Aerobic exercises include all
sorts of general exercises that you may already do as part of your daily routine, like house cleaning, grocery shopping or gardening.

For maximum benefit, 150 minutes of general aerobic exercise per week is a good goal to try and meet. This could be a long walk once a week,
or a 30-minute exercise session five times a week.

Water exercise is a great form of aerobic exercise for those suffering from Osteoarthritis, as the buoyancy of the water means less weight
bearing on your affected joints. Some other aerobic exercises that are beneficial for osteoarthritis are listed below:

  • Walking
  • Exercise bike
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Rowing
  • Dancing


When To See A Podiatrist?

When a patient is diagnosed with osteoarthritis, they’re often referred to a podiatrist who can suggest stretches, exercises, and treatments
to increase mobility and help with pain relief. But, once your exercise program is decided on, when should you head back? If you have
noticed an escalation in osteoarthritis pain symptoms, you can go for a quick check-up with a podiatrist. However, if you see a difference
in your health – like joint pain in a different area, escalated arthritis pain, additional arthritis symptoms, or mobility problems – you
should schedule an appointment to get professional advice from your doctor and podiatrist.

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