“No pain, no gain,” we have all heard this statement before. Whether our gym teacher yelled it during class or our coaches screamed it across the football field, many of us have lived with this statement to always push ourselves past the point of pain to improve our game or to lose more weight, gain more muscle or become better experts at our sport. But the real question is, does this really work for those of us who suffer from joint pain or arthritis? Simply put, no, we have to be careful and use logic when working out or we can cause more damage than good.

Did you know that one in every five adults has arthritis symptoms[1] that can cause pain when moving, let alone when considering working out? But trying the right exercise can actually be a great solution for your sore joints.[1]

Exercise releases endorphins, which improves blood flow to the affected area. This in turn can increase your range of motion and ease joint pain, both of these effects can make you feel better.

It is normal to feel a little bit of muscular soreness the day after a workout, but experiencing sharp pain during or immediately after could actually mean an injury.

We came across an article in the Arthritis Today health publication that notes some guidelines to use when working out with arthritis.[2]

If you experience intense pain in a specific area of the body before you work out, consider focusing on a different body part for the next couple of days. If you continue to push joints in discomfort you may increase pain and damage to that joint.

If you experience average to intense pain during your workout, stop. Do not continue. This might be a sign that you are experiencing joint inflammation or maybe even joint damage.

If you experience joint pain after your workout, consider a workout that puts less pressure on your joints. Suggested replacements include swimming, water aerobics, dancing or even biking. Think of those as three-dimensional workouts which allow a great range of motion without the heavy joint pressure.[3] The key is to have low-impact workouts that get your heart rate up, but keep pressure off of your joints.

Perhaps you experience average to intense pain a day or so after working out. Be reasonable and reduce the intensity of the workout.  It’s okay to take a day off, then follow it up with a shorter and less intense workout. Don’t be surprised, but your pain may still continue. If this happens you’ll need to try a different workout. Swap out running (considered a high-impact workout causing plenty of pressure on the joints, especially when running on pavement) for low-impact water aerobics.

Now that we have addressed some types of workouts that could lessen the pressure on your joints and hopefully slow down the damage you may experience, you are probably wondering how frequently you should still work out

Like any type of physical activity or training, you can’t start from sedentary and expect to be doing high levels of activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends aiming for 150 minutes of working out a week to keep up aerobic and cardiovascular levels. You’ll want to include some strength-building exercises twice a week. For more balance and flexibility you’ll want to aim for about three days per week. But remember, start off slowly and increase your work out length over time. The exercises above are ones that benefit both those suffering from joint pain and arthritis as well as those who are joint pain free.

Before you begin any workout program or lifestyle change, please consult your primary care physician or OAM orthopedic specialist to learn what is safe for you to do and how often.

Call us at 616-459-7101 to learn more low-impact workout options to ease aching joints.