When it comes to arthritis of the feet, it can be very painful, and difficult to get around without being in discomfort. Since the foot is responsible for supporting the entire weight of the body, it is involved with natural wear and tear, and highly susceptible to arthritis. You may have been prescribed medications for flare-ups and pain management, or even special bracing to help minimize the joint motion. However, did you know one thing that is important for people with arthritis is regular, proper exercise? While this does not sound ideal for a foot in pain, the appropriate amount of exercise is actually vital for your overall health, even with arthritis.
Benefits of Exercising with Arthritis
Arthritis can stiffen joints and make it painful to move. However, there are numerous reasons why exercising with arthritis can help improve the symptoms you may be experiencing.
- Exercise reduces joint stiffness and pain – When people do not exercise as often as they should, the supporting muscles of the joint eventually weaken, and make it difficult for the joints to move. Exercising will help maintain the muscle strength and eventually help relieve the pain felt when trying to move the joints.
- Exercise can improve balance and stability – Arthritis can cause imbalance and lack of stability due to the pain often experienced when putting pressure on the affected joints; this leads to decrease in muscle strength. When this happens, people tend to place weight on areas of their feet that are not normally done when standing. Since the body weight is not properly distributed on the foot, it leads to improper balance, and ultimately leads to an increase in fall risk. Exercising increases the strength of the foot and ankle muscles and contributes to improved balance and stability, thereby minimizing your risk of fall injuries.
- Exercising promotes your mental well-being – In patients without arthritis, exercising is often a means of relieving stress. This does not have to change if you are experiencing arthritis. Exercise can greatly reduce anxiety, stress, restlessness, and can put patients in a better mood.
Types of Exercises
While exercising has numerous health benefits, there are also ideal ways to exercise, especially when people have arthritis. The number one cause of injury to the foot and ankle when exercising is overuse or doing too much, too soon, and too fast. The following are examples of basic exercises to perform with arthritis:
- Joint Stretches – performing simple and gentle stretching of your foot and ankle is a great way to help increase the range of motion and relieving stiff joints. This can help increase your joint mobility and help minimize pain when performing daily tasks.
- Cardio – high-impact cardio exercising has great health benefits. However, high-impact exercising such as running or high-impact sports can increase the risk of further joint destruction and should not be the primary exercise performed. Therefore, low-impact cardio exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, or yoga can provide pain relief by increasing joint mobility and overall exercise tolerance.
If you have concerns about your foot arthritis and want to get a handle on it, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We will explain all your treatment and exercise options to available to you to help improve your foot health and properly handle your foot arthritis.