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Advice from a Toronto Chiropractor: 4 Ways Physical Fitness Can Help Alleviate Arthritis

Arthritis is a disease commonly associated with aging, and without a known cure. There are, however, a number of ways you can maintain your body that can alleviate symptoms, reduce the severity of flare-ups, and even delay or avoid outbreaks altogether. Here are some common treatments, from the experience of a Toronto chiropractor.

Range of motion exercises

There are a number of simple stretches that are meant to restore and maintain the range of motion in areas affected by arthritic flare-ups. These are often as simple as flexing out your fingers and then making a fist or slowly rolling your ankle in a circle, and can be done virtually anywhere.

The key to effective range of motion exercises is to learn your limits: It’s best to feel a slight stretch without pushing to the point of discomfort.

To learn how to do these simple exercises, The Arthritis Foundation has an excellent video resource that shows various range-of-motion exercises for the most commonly affected joints.

Strength and Conditioning

While many years ago, doctors would assume that the best solution for arthritis was bed rest, treatment protocols have changed to recommend exercise regimens including strength exercises. These are what are known as ‘resistance-based exercises’, which means exercises that use a weight, spring, or band to create resistance.

Strengthening muscles helps to take some strain off of your joints, improves local circulation, improves importing nutrition and muscle waste removal. Exercise and strengthening assists to reduce the frequency of flare-ups, and makes it easier to cope when your arthritic pain presents itself.

The key to strength training for arthritis patients is to keep effort low-impact. Make your exercise and strengthening movements slow and controlled. If you have any concerns regarding injury, consult a personal trainer to make sure that your exercises are within the proper range of motion and weights are appropriate to your condition.

Aerobic Exercise

Low-impact aerobic exercise is an excellent way to stay healthy, even when not suffering from a minor arthritis flare-up. ‘Low-impact’ means anything that avoids jarring impacts on your joints.

Swimming has long been a staple of physiotherapy because of its extremely low impact. There are also many public pools and aquatic aerobic programs throughout Toronto available for easy access.

Cardio-intensive sports where you don’t twist your legs or stomp your feet on the ground, such as cycling, cross-trainers, treadmills, and cross-country skiing, are also common choices for arthritis sufferers. There are a number of bike paths snaking through the Greater Toronto Area, and cross-country skiing is an excellent winter alternative.

Chiropractic Treatment

Like flexibility, strength, and aerobic exercises, chiropractic treatment is a common method of maintaining the general health of your body.

Chiropractic treatment minimizes the development of arthritis, and if present, will restore joint function to as normal a state as possible. This can both provide short-term relief of joint pressure, as well as take a preventive role by keeping your joints and nervous system healthy through regular treatment. Your chiropractor will work with you to develop an exercise plan that suits your lifestyle and help you deal with your arthritis as effectively as possible.

For more information about arthritis, we invite you to visit the Arthritis Society of Canada. If you live in or around Toronto and want to consult with us about arthritis treatment for yourself or a loved one, call or email us to book an appointment today.