If you suffer from inflammation due to arthritis then you know how debilitating this condition can be. Thankfully there are certain foods and exercises that can help manage pain and decrease inflammation to give you the quality of life you desire even while dealing with arthritis. Read on to learn 5 of the best foods and exercises to battle arthritis pain.
Exercise and Arthritis
Arthritis affects the joints, produces pain and fatigue, and reduces one’s range of motion. These issues can cause exercise to be difficult or even painful to do but it’s still crucial to exercise as it can, overtime, help reduce the effects of arthritis. While arthritis would work to weaken and break down your joints, exercise will strengthen joints and increase their flexibility. Exercise has been shown to reduce joint pain and even combat fatigue.
It is important to find exercises that you enjoy and are gentle on the joints. Here are 5 exercises that can help target arthritis pain and stiffness. (They are general exercises, but exercising a specific place where the arthritis is prominent is very helpful as well.)
Top 5 Best Exercises to Help with Arthritis Pain
- Walking. Walking is a great way to move your joints and ease into exercise. Walking is low impact and provides you with many benefits without over-stressing your joints like jogging or running would. Walking can help lubricate and soften tight joints, strengthen your muscles, and clear pain. Just a few minutes of walking a day can make a difference, also improving cholesterol and boosting your metabolism.
- Swimming. Swimming stimulates blood circulation and can reduce stiffness in the joints and ease pain, making it a great low-impact exercise for those suffering with arthritis. When you swim you build strength and heart health while benefiting from the buoyancy of water that reduces the impact to your joints. Not a swimmer? No problem, look into a water aerobics class at a local recreation center to learn other exercises that can be done in the water to give you the same benefits.
- Cycling. Cycling is a wonderful exercise since it takes a lot of stress off your joints. It helps strengthen your muscles and joints and can be done indoors or outdoors. A study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that cycling and swimming both significantly reduced joint pain and stiffness AND increased quality of life for the middle-aged and older adults with osteoarthritis who participated in the study. Stationary recumbent bikes make biking indoors comfortable and easy year-round, while a nice Comfort style bike can have you cruising around outdoors and reaping the benefits of cycling for the joints.
- Yoga. Yoga is a gentle form of exercising that helps relieve pain, improves flexibility, and promotes better sleep. Yoga can help you relax, destress, and strengthen your muscles. There are many different types of yoga, and depending on if you want to focus on building muscle or relaxing, or if you want slow-paced or a faster one, you can choose the best yoga class for you. It is recommended to take a Vinyasa yoga class because it can help build and maintain muscle that can help support arthritis joints.
- Stretching. Stretching is another gentle way of working your joints and muscles. With stretching, you can pinpoint places that hurt more, or where your arthritis is more prominent, and work with them. You can do hand stretches, or work on your legs, etc. Stretching lubricates the joints, relieves pain, and increases your range of motion.
Top 5 Best Foods to Help with Arthritis Pain
Getting the right foods is just as important as exercise to help with managing arthritis pain. You want foods that are anti-inflammatory, such as:
- Fish. Fish is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids that help fight inflammation.
- Citrus Fruit. Lemon, Oranges, Grapefruit, etc, are rich in vitamin C and very good for you. They are also anti-inflammatory.
- Broccoli. Broccoli is rich in calcium, which is good for building and strengthening your bones. It contains vitamin K and C as well.
- Nuts. Nuts are high in protein, magnesium, and calcium.
- Whole Grains. Whole grains lower the amount of CRP in the blood. CRP, short for C- Reactive Protein, indicate the amount of inflammation in your blood.
Choosing anti-inflammatory foods helps relieve the pressure that is placed on your joints when you experience a flare-up or daily inflammation. Many herbal formulas or dried herbs have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as beans, and garlic.
What to Avoid?
Keep these things to avoid in mind while exercising or choosing your diet:
- Don’t overdo it on the weights. Lifting too much can damage tissue. Start small, and increase when you are ready.
- Certain exercises can be harmful depending on what type of arthritis someone has. For example, squatting can be really painful and add too much pressure to joints if you have knee osteoarthritis.
- Avoid foods high in added sugars, or processed foods. These can cause inflammation and can make the symptoms worse. Pay attention to your body and what you eat, you’ll be able to see what foods are triggering more pain and inflammation.
- Remaining in one position for an extended period of time can cause stiffness of joints, if you have a desk job get up and walk around each hour to keep loose.
- Avoid super strenuous exercise. Exercising is important, but over doing it can lead to further problems down the road. Light and gentle exercises are best to helping your body with arthritis.
- Make sure to hydrate! According to arthritis.com water is the magic elixir for arthritis, no other beverage will help reduce inflammation and pain like water. Staying hydrated is vital for flushing toxins out of the body which helps fight inflammation while simultaneously keeping joints lubricated and aid in preventing gout attacks.
- Slight discomfort or aching after exercising is normal, however, if the pain persists for longer than a few hours you may need to exercise for a shorter amount of time or do fewer reps. If the pain is really serious you may need to seek medical attention.
- Take time to rest and have breaks. It is important to give your body a break, and not work your joints all the time. Having good sleep and rest habits can improve your arthritis pain.
- Massages are also great for relieving arthritis pain.
- Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise plan to make sure it is right for you.