Arthritis is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, most types of arthritis are caused by wear and tear. As such, tall people, athletes and those who spend a lot of time in the gym are more susceptible to it. At the same time, however, not doing exercise makes the condition worse. In fact, it is absolutely crucial that you exercise if you have any kind of arthritis. The key, however, is knowing how much you are able to do. Normally, feeling pain would be a reason to stop a certain activity. However, with arthritis, you will generally always feel pain, so this is no longer a good indicator. Furthermore, it is normal to have some soreness in the muscles right after a workout. If, however, you feel any sharp pain, whether it is before or after your workout, this could be indicative of an injury.
If you do have arthritis, it is important to speak to a physical therapist about how much and what type of exercise you should engage in, and which ones to avoid as well. Someone with arthritis will always work through pain when exercising. Being able to recognize which pain is acceptable and which one is not, however, will require some explanation by a professional. As such, the following information are provided as a guideline only.
Pain at Moderate to Severe Level in a Specific Joint that Is Present Before the Workout
In this case, you should try to work out a different area for a few days. For instance, if you have significant pain in your knees, you may want to forgo on your leg exercises for a few days. Instead, focus on the upper body.
What you need is balance. And balance will come from exercises that keep you as strong as possible, but minimize the danger in your exercise program.
On the one hand, if you use weights, the pressure on your joints can become so heavy that it can cause further damage. On the other hand, if you do not exercise this area, it will become weaker and this can also make your arthritis worse. Finding that balance is the key, which is why it is also so important to listen to your body. It is not a good idea, if you have arthritis in the knee, for instance, to never do leg exercises again. Instead, you need to understand which days are better to do the workout, and which days are better for other types.
Pain at Moderate to Severe Level During Exercise
If you feel pain during your exercise, you must stop straightaway. In general, people who do have arthritis are able to continue their workouts even when they feel pain, as the pain simply becomes a part of their life. However, if the pain suddenly becomes worse, and it comes on during a workout, then there may be reason to believe that the joint has inflammation. It could also mean that there is damage present and it requires treatment.
Constant Joint Pain After Exercise
It is first important to recognize the difference between joint pain and muscle pain. Muscle pain is very common, particularly if you are putting yourself through a new type of workout. Joint pain, however, tends to feel duller and is present even if you place no tension on the joint. If you feel that you need to take anti-inflammatory painkillers or wear complicated braces after you do a workout, this is a good sign that you have pushed things too far. In these cases, it is better to take part in a gentle type of exercise that places less stress on the joints for the time being.
The Arthritis Foundation conducts exercise programs for people with arthritis in many parts of the United States. Programs include exercise classes — in water and on land — and walking groups. Contact your local branch for more information.
Occasional Pain of Moderate to Severe Level the Day After a Workout
If this happens, then it is likely that the intensity of the workout is slightly too high. This pain is actually common not just in people with arthritis, but also those without. When you push yourself to your limits, you stretch and tear your muscles slightly, and this will take a while to heal itself (generally between two and four days). Hence, if you feel this pain the day after a workout (the day after that is usually even worse), you may want to lower the weights you are using slightly, until you get used to them. Additionally, take a day off to help your muscles recover. This pain is not actually related to your arthritis, but rather to your muscles. However, if you do have arthritis, the pain is likely to be much worse.
The pain of arthritis causes many people to give up on exercise, but this actually the worst thing you could possibly do. Instead, it means that you need to continue to strengthen your bones, muscle tissues and joints. However, arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis in particular, is also about truly getting to know your own body. You need to listen to it when it says that something is too much, and give it a few days’ rest before trying again.
If it feels good to just walk in the water, then by all means go ahead, but you do not push through RA pain. It’s your body’s way of telling you to stop.
This is why it is so important to work together with a medical professional and a personal trainer as well. They can create a program together that is not too taxing on your body, yet hard enough to keep you satisfied. This is particularly important for those who have always worked out, and feel that they have to tone it down due to their arthritis. Unfortunately, having arthritis means dealing with pain at all times. The reality is, however, that the pain will remain far more manageable while continuing to work out in the long run.
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