5 Common Workout Mistakes To Avoid When Exercising With Arthritis

Authored by: Jason Arnett

Exercise is extremely beneficial to all individuals, but especially to those with arthritis as it increases flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps to combat fatigue. It can be tricky, however, to determine what mistakes to avoid and when to power through the pain if you’re a workout novice. Don’t worry – we’ve got your back! Below you will find common workout mistakes and advice on what constitutes the normal aches and pains of a workout, and when you may need to take a few days off.


The Mistake: You skip the warm-up.
Warming up prior to exercising helps to prime the body for physical activity. It should gradually increase your heart rate and circulation, which in turn will loosen your joints and increase blood flow to your muscles. The warm-up mitigates risk of injury and joint stiffness the next day.
Examples of warm-ups include walking in place for five minutes keeping the knees high, lunges, or moving side to side in place.

The Mistake: You never stretch.
Stretching is extremely important as it increase flexibility and provides our muscles with a full range of motion. Stretching prior to aerobic activity {running, swimming, walking, etc.} helps reduce joint stiffness which can impact your workout and leave you sore for days. For example, forgetting to stretch your hamstring could lead to muscle tightness, causing misalignment in the pelvis and knees.
Example: Stand with both feet on the ground and cross one foot over the other. Keeping your chest high, bend over and reach your hands toward your feet to stretch your hamstrings. Stand up, cross the other foot and repeat. Repeat 10 times on each side {for a total of 20 times}.

The Mistake: You’re not focused on form.
Proper form is the number one thing you should focus on when exercising. It doesn’t matter how many repetitions of an exercise you perform, once you lose form you are increasing your risk for injury exponentially. You can ensure you are using proper form by checking with a trainer or looking at yourself in a mirror. Form is especially important for those with arthritis because exercise is a bone-on-bone activity that can lead to improper posture and hyperextension of joints.

The Mistake: You power through the pain.
Flare ups are common among those with arthritis, therefore you should be extremely diligent in listening to your body. Some mild to moderate discomfort is typical when initially working out, but will usually feel better after your body begins to warm up. If you experience a sharp or severe pain in a joint, however, you should stop immediately and give your body a few days to relax as this may be a sign of joint inflammation or joint damage. Consider trying a new workout or focusing on a different muscle for a few days while your body recovers.

The Mistake: You forget to cool down.
Cooling down after a strenuous workout is just as vital as stretching and warming up. It helps to regulate your heart rate and return your breathing to a normal resting level. This helps to avoid fainting and dizziness, while also increasing flexibility with cool-down stretches.
Example: Walk for five minutes after your exercise and stretch your arms, legs, chest, and core.

Exercise, when done properly, has many benefits for those with arthritis. Remember to avoid the common workout mistakes above and start reaping the benefits today! For a comfortable, judgment-free workout atmosphere, consider scheduling an appointment with Jason Arnett at VSI Physical Therapy.

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