With summer just around the corner, most of us want to spend more time outdoors moving about and enjoying the weather. But for sufferers of osteoarthritis, movement might mean pain and discomfort. Contrary to popular belief, resting the joints is not the answer and regular exercise can help ease the effects of osteoarthritis.
Around 8.75 million people in the UK have sought treatment for osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis which causes joint stiffness and pain. This means that 33 percent of people aged 45 and over, and 49 percent of women and 42 percent of men over the age of 75 suffer from the condition.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but it most often causes problems in the knees, hips and small joints of the hands. As a degenerative disease, osteoarthritis can worsen over time and cannot be cured. A real tell-tale sign of osteoarthritis is the associated stiffness in the mornings and after excessive activity.
The severity of the condition can vary greatly from person to person and between different joints. For some, the effects are mild and come and go. Others experience continuous and severe problems.
Regular exercise can help stave off the effects of arthritis, but you should make sure to do low impact exercises such as walking, cycling and swimming. If you prefer swimming, please be aware that breaststroke may put a lot of strain on your knee and hip joints.
To the right you can find some examples of exercises you can safely do to help with osteoarthritis. It is also advisable to speak to a physiotherapist about your individual situation and how to best manage your condition.
Lie on your back with your legs straight. Slowly bend your knee by sliding your foot up towards your buttocks as far as you can. Hold for a count of 5, relax and repeat 5 times, increase as you feel comfortable. If this is difficult, placing a plastic bag under your heel can make this movement easier. Repeat 3 times a day
Active Hip Abduction
Lie on your back with your legs straight. Slowly slide your operated leg out to the side as far as you can. Then slide your leg back towards the middle. If this is difficult, place a plastic bag under your heel to make this exercise easier. Repeat 5 times, 3 sessions a day. Increase as you feel comfortable.
Active Knee flexion (bending)
Lie on your back with your legs straight. Slowly bend your knee by sliding your foot up towards your buttocks as far as you can. Hold for a count of 5, relax and repeat 5 times, increase as you feel comfortable. Repeat 3 times per day. You may use a plastic bag or tin tray lid under your heel to reduce the friction and aid the bend of your knee.
Lie on your back with your legs straight. Tighten the top of your thighs by pressing the back of your knees into the bed. Hold the contraction for a count of 5, relax and repeat 5 times, increase as you feel comfortable. Repeat 3 times per day.