Jun 7, 2020

Eight Walking Strategies for Those That Suffer from Arthritis

For those who have arthritis, exercise is excellent medicine. Low impact exercise eases joint pain, fights off fatigue, and can cause your body to release endorphins that help relieve pain and improve mindset. If you’re looking for an easy and inexpensive way to active, try walking. And there is no better time to get started than now!

Walking is a simple workout, but it brings enormous benefits. For starters, it can help you maintain a healthy weight and even shed some pounds. This is so important because that pesky extra weight can place added stress on your joints. Walking also strengthens your muscles, improves your range of motion, and increases flexibility.

So step outside, start moving, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. These eight walking strategies will have you striding towards a healthier future.

Check-in with your rheumatologist.

According to Arthritis.org, “a regular walking routine compresses and releases the cartilage in your knees, helping circulate synovial fluid that brings oxygen and nourishes your joints. When joints don’t get this nourishment, they deteriorate faster.”

So, while most rheumatologists would strongly encourage this activity, it’s crucial to check in first. As a chronic pain sufferer, it’s essential that before you start any new physical activity, including walking, to talk with your physician. They can make sure that it’s safe for you to start and offer sound advice on how to build your routine.

Start small.

Trying to do too much, too soon can make joint pain worse and will have you never wanting to walk again. So, start small and ease yourself into a walking program. Start with a 10-15 minute stroll, then add a few minutes to each walk throughout a few weeks. Set new goals for yourself every week, with the end goal being walking for 30 minutes, five days a week.

Check out this walking program from UC Berkley to get you started!

Be sure to warm up first.

Warming up properly gets your heart, lungs, and muscles ready for activity. It is essential for people with arthritis because warming up increases the fluid that cushions your joints. This will help with pain during your walk and make injuries less likely.

Start with some simple range-of-motion exercises, dynamic stretches, or march in place for five minutes.

Implement a cool-down ritual.

As with warm-up, people with arthritis may need to take extra time to cool down properly. Stretches are excellent cool-down activities, as is gradually slowing your walking pace for a few minutes.

[Looking to amp up your work out? Check out these couch exercises that you can do from home!]

Manage pain.

Nothing will put a halt to your healthy lifestyle plan more that pain. However, you can relieve your arthritis pain by applying some management techniques before and after your walk. They include:

  • Walking when you typically feel your best. Are your joints stiff first thing in the morning? Plan to take your walk in the afternoon.
  • Take your pain relievers around your walk time. That way, it kicks in while you’re walking.
  • Take a warm shower or apply a heating pad about 30 minutes before your walk. The heat will help relax your muscles and joints.
  • Gently massage the muscles around your joint for a few minutes before you head out for your walk. This will increase the blood flow to the area.
  • After you exercise, ice your joints for up to 20 minutes. This can relieve any swelling and help with the pain.

Kick it up a notch.

When your walks feel too easy, it is probably time to create a challenge. Here are some ideas:

  • Utilize weights. Carry some small two-pound weights or some strap on some ankle weights.
  • Add speed with intervals. Stroll at your usual pace for one minute and then walk faster for the next minute.
  • Add inclines by walking in more hilly areas.

Make it fun.

Sliding into a monotonous or boring exercise program will often leave you uninspired and not working out at all. Find new ways to keep your walk fun and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

  • Add weekly challenges like attempting to complete your walk in a shorter time, adding in joint-friendly exercises, or adding distance.
  • Reward yourself when you meet goals.
  • Change up the scenery. Seeing the same surroundings day after day during your walk will get old quickly. Find new places to keep it fresh and fun.
  • Track your progress. Whether it’s through an app, a Fitbit, or just a piece of paper, watching your progress is very motivating. It’s exciting to see yourself grow and get stronger.

Listen to your body.

It’s normal to feel some soreness when you start a new exercise program. But if you have any pain that’s sharp or unusual, that may be a sign something’s wrong. Don’t try to push through to finish. Instead, take a break.

If you feel like you need to improve your quality of life through exercise, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Carolina Arthritis today. Don’t let arthritis aches and pains hold you back from living your best life and reaching your goals.

For more monthly tips on living your best life with a chronic illness, keep following Carolina Arthritis!