For many years, it was believed that people with arthritis or bone and joint pain should not exercise for fear of exacerbating the problem. Many older adults experience arthritis from general wear and tear or repetitive movements. Sometimes, arthritis can develop from past joint injuries that never healed properly. Arthritis can be very painful to the point of not wanting to move or perform activities of daily living. As the health and wellness industry began to learn more about arthritis, it found that decreasing your activity does not alleviate pain due to arthritis. What was actually found was that strengthening your muscles not only helped alleviate pain due to arthritis but actually discovered something known as Wolff’s Law. Wolf’s Law states “a bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads under which it is placed.” (Wolff’s Law) Simply stated, in healthy people, strengthening your muscles can strengthen your bones.
As a Personal Trainer, I hear many people say that they do not exercise because their joints hurt or they have a nagging injury. While it is true that rest is the best treatment in some cases, there comes a time when one needs to start strengthening that area to help the muscles regain strength. If one rests too long after an injury or from pain due to arthritis, it can lead to atrophy or muscle loss. Atrophy is not to be taken lightly. If you experience atrophy, it has the potential to lead to other injuries or increase the probability of developing arthritis in other parts of your body. For example, if you experience a knee injury and rest too long on one leg, the muscles of the injured leg will shrink which could cause you to compensate by putting more weight on the other leg. When that happens, more weight is placed on the opposite hip area which increases the probability of injury the other leg. Before you know it, you have a bad knee on one leg and a bad hip on the other leg. You only have one body, so take care of it!
If you are in a similar position with an injury or arthritis, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor about how you should go about rehabilitating your injury. Most likely they will suggest seeing a Physical Therapist. You should ALWAYS follow the instructions your Therapist suggests for you, they are usually very good at what they do! Once you are done with your therapy, it is best to continue to exercise with professional supervision with an experienced, qualified Personal Trainer. A good trainer will be able to pick up where your Therapist left off and get you back to normal.