AEROBIC EXERCISES FOR OSTEOARTHRITIS JOINT PAIN MANAGEMENT
Winters are a time when all of us, especially elders, who suffer from some kind of joint pain experience pain flare ups. The drop in atmospheric pressure leads to the swelling of the cartilage which causes pain and stiffness in our joints. Wincing in pain due to this means exercise is the last thing on your mind. However, just when you think the best way to gain relief is through rest, it is actually movement that is the way out of pain. One of the best exercises for pain relief in winters is through low-impact aerobic exercises.
Commonly known as “cardio”, aerobic exercises are bunch of structured physical activities that are repeated over a duration of time (typically 30 to 60 minutes) for oxygenated blood to be pumped by the heart towards working muscles.
The types of aerobic exercises suitable for osteoarthritis joint pain management are:
- WALKING – Walking has a range of benefits. It not only helps weight loss which is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis but also improves heart health, strengthens muscles and improves balance. As per one study, it also retains range of motion – people with osteoarthritis were better protected against functional limitation on walking more than 6000 steps every day. Due to improved blood circulation, it exposes the synovial fluid (lubricant) to oxygen and healthy nutrients thus helping to decrease pain and stiffness to aid better range of motion.
- STATIONARY CYCLING / BIKING – As opposed to popular opinion, cycling will not exacerbate joint pain. Low-intensity cycling or stationary biking can help you shed off excess pounds thus taking the pressure off your weight bearing joints like your knees. It can also help improve the production of the synovial fluid which lubricates the joints. It is a great exercises for knee osteoarthritis as it helps strengthen the quadriceps muscles and thus support the bones and surrounding tissue. Choosing the right bike – upright (similar to traditional cycles) or recumbent (with a chair-like seat) is imperative depending upon your pain area, pain level and flexibility.
- ELLIPTICAL TRAINER / STEP MACHINE – Using a stepper is another proven low-impact exercise to manage osteoarthritis joint pain, especially knee pain, as it works and strengthens the same muscles that are used while climbing stairs – the calf muscles, hamstrings and quadriceps. A step machine also has a one-up over climbing real stairs. The softness of the machine’s pedals reduce the stress on your joints giving it an edge over the hard concrete surfaces of stairs which put pressure on the joints.
- STATIONARY ROWING – Rowing is a full body low-impact workout that builds core strength while working your arms and legs. While engaging in the rhythmic motion of rowing, the quadriceps above the knee are extended and the hamstrings and gastrocnemius muscles (part of the calf muscles) are flexed during contraction. This helps them grow stronger and support the knee joint.
The above-mentioned low-impact aerobic exercises are recommended during the early stages of osteoarthritis to prevent degeneration of joints and retain the range of motion. Please consult your physician before undertaking any workout. To get added relief, massage your joints with an Ayurvedic oil like Zandu Ortho Vedic Oil before and after your workout. Its 5 classical oils help improve lubrication, reduce muscle pain and reduce stiffness thus aiding you to exercise better.
If you are experiencing prolonged pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints, take the Zandu Osteoarthritis Online Self Test here. If your pain level is above 6, book a free consultation with a Zandu Physiotherapist here.