Sports in osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common disease of old age. But more and more young people are affected: The joints hurt, are swollen and limit the ability to move - therefore, most of the affected quickly lost the desire for sports activities. But especially with arthrosis, sport is important. Because with the right sports can alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Arthrosis: Creeping joint wear

All our lives, we use our joints. Climbing stairs, lifting objects, getting up, sitting down - and our own body weight is always there.

Since it is understandable that with age wear and tear occur. The soft cartilage that surrounds our bones becomes more porous and thinner until it finally disappears: bone rubs on bones. This process causes pain and also leads to a creeping joint wear, the arthrosis.

Even young people can have osteoarthritis

Arthrosis is one of the three most important diseases in old age in addition to cardiovascular diseases and dementia. But more and more young people are affected: An accident, a congenital deformity, obesity, joint inflammation and certain metabolic diseases can be causes of osteoarthritis.

Especially the large joints of the body such as the knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and wrist then show the typical symptoms of osteoarthritis. Pain and functional limitations cause those affected hardly move or become active in sports. But that's what they should do. Because sports with arthrosis not only relieves the symptoms, but in the best case can even stop the wear.

Sports as a prevention in osteoarthritis?

When we move, our joints produce a lubricating substance called synovial fluid. It has a damping effect, so to speak as a lubricant, and thus ensures a smooth mobility. In addition, it contains nutrients that supply the cartilage, and thus keeps this protective cover of the articular surfaces alive.

Through regular training, we also strengthen our muscles and thus the holding apparatus that surrounds and stabilizes our joints. Therefore, sport is important to prevent osteoarthritis. But already sick people sport is definitely recommended.

Not every sport is good at osteoarthritis

However, not every sport is suitable for osteoarthritis patients. Fast start-up and stopping, such as tennis, should be avoided. Also other ball sports are generally not recommended, since here often fast changes of direction and abrupt movements are necessary.

With arthrosis, the joints should be loaded with little to no weight, therefore prohibit sports such as skiing or excessive strength training. Generally it can be said that one should refrain from extreme sports, competitive sports and competitions.

Swimming in osteoarthritis

Swimming is considered a panacea to any form of osteoarthritis. Whether knee, hip, shoulder or ankle arthrosis - the weightlessness in the water relieves the joints and reduces the body weight that weighs on them. In addition, you experience a pleasant massage effect when moving in water and the heart rate is lowered by the water pressure.

Swimming also promotes coordination, stamina and muscle growth. The latter is reinforced by the water resistance. Ideal for osteoarthritis are crawl and backstroke. Because in a knee or hip joint arthrosis, breast strokes stress the joints in an unfavorable way.

Aquajogging as an alternative to swimming

An interesting alternative to swimming is aquajogging. Through this sport one burns approximately 400 calories in 30 minutes and a weight reduction arises with overweight thus fast. However, you should pay attention to the right technique:

  1. Tense stomach
  2. Elbow flexion at 90 degrees angle
  3. upright posture
  4. opposing arm and leg movements

Cycling in osteoarthritis

Biking is the second best sport in arthrosis: Both cycling and cycling on the home trainer (ergometer) are well suited. In both cases, it is extremely important to set the bike individually correctly:

  • When sitting upright on the saddle, the stretched leg should reach the pedal.
  • The handlebar must be set higher than the saddle.
  • The contact with the pedal takes place between the ball and the metatarsus.
  • In case of hand arthrosis, a grip or bottom bracket circuit helps.
  • The knee angle should be more than 90 degrees. The knee angle is the angle between thigh and lower leg, which is reached when you just start to depress the pedal.

In addition, the bike should have as many gears, so you can adapt the resistance optimally to the respective requirements. Generally you should prefer the lower gears while driving.

The cadence is ideally between 80 and 100 pedal revolutions per minute, with the legs not being fully depressed at any time. The same applies to the ergometer: Low wattage (25-50 watts) at high cadence.

Jogging in case of osteoarthritis

In principle, there is nothing wrong with jogging in the case of osteoarthritis, if a few points are taken into account. The most important prerequisite are well-dampened shoes that cushion the weight. Because when running faster, we expect our hip, knee and ankle 2.5 to 3 times our body weight.

Routes that lead uphill or downhill, as well as paved roads should be bypassed. It is better to walk on a level forest path, because the joints are spared.

Nordic walking with osteoarthritis

Arthrosis is better than jogging Nordic Walking, because this sport uses special poles for support. So the body weight is distributed and the load is only half as large as when jogging. The upper body muscles are also required, an advantage that Nordic Walking has over normal walking.

For osteoarthritis patients it is particularly important during Nordic Walking to pay attention to the right technique - the so-called ALFA technique:

  • A: upright posture
  • L: long arm
  • F: flat floor
  • A: adjusted stride length

Medical training therapy for osteoarthritis

This exercise program, supervised by a doctor, combines several sports exercises. Elements of strength and endurance sports as well as coordination and stretching exercises are used under professional guidance. The body is required in its entirety, because the holistic approach to training also takes into account the individual's breathing and the cardiovascular system.

As a rule of thumb for the ideal pulse rate: 180 minus age

The learned movements can also be done well at home.

Other useful sports in osteoarthritis

In winter, cross-country skiing is an option for osteoarthritis patients as this sport uses a lot of joints in the body.

If you prefer to work out in the open, you should try gymnastics. The advantage of this sport is that no stress is exerted on the joints, but the ligaments and tendons are stretched. This has a positive effect on the mobility and also contributes to the relaxation of the muscles. In principle, a stretching exercise unit should also be performed after any other training.

7 general tips for doing sports in osteoarthritis

Anyone who suffers from osteoarthritis and wants to do sports should note the following tips:

  1. In order to train effectively and to really do something good for your body, a sports training should be individually tailored to the individual patient. This means that the workload must be adapted to the personal condition and the training condition. Because, among other things, arthrosis is caused by too little movement - but under certain circumstances also by too much.
  2. Therefore, choose exercises that are easy for you. You can then slowly build up on these exercises.
  3. Care should be taken that the stress is not too one-sided and that the whole body is best included in the training.
  4. It is very important that you are painless during training. This means that you should spare yourself in phases in which the complaints are stronger.
  5. To get some regularity, choose at least three days a week to train. Alternatively, 30 minutes a day is a good solution.
  6. The training can be combined well with your leisure time activities, because sport is probably the only therapy for osteoarthritis that can be fun.
  7. If you're having trouble motivating yourself, find a sports group because things can be easier together.

Through sports in osteoarthritis you can do something yourself and in the best case even avoid surgery. In addition, you can also prevent other illnesses by a regular sports training. Discuss with your doctor and start training today.

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