Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects about 15% of the Australian population. Put simply; it's a chronic condition that causes joint tissue to break down, resulting in the bones rubbing together. This can cause discomfort in mild cases and severe pain in more serious cases and lead to considerable swelling and potentially loss of motion.
While osteoarthritis can affect any joint, it most commonly appears in the knee, hip, foot, and spine.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are many treatments and methods that can slow down the progress of the disease and aim to keep arthritis in the earlier, more manageable stages.
One of the tried-and-tested methods is physical therapy. A range of exercises can help strengthen the muscles around the joints, alleviating the stress that's put on the joints in day-to-day activities. As well as relieving stress, the focus of these exercises is also to relieve joint pain.
Podiatrists generally recommend a combination of strengthening exercises and aerobic exercises to achieve maximum benefits. Strengthening exercises refer to movements that build either a single muscle or a group of muscles, while aerobic exercise is a range of motion exercise, otherwise known as cardiovascular conditioning, aimed at improving overall health.
Below are five easy exercises that can be done at home to help osteoarthritis.
The sit-to-stand is a versatile lower limb pushing movement that can be completed with limited equipment almost anywhere. This variation should be used to build confidence with the movement and can be progressed easily by removing the chair or adding weight.
How to Complete a Sit-to-Stand Squat:
The single-arm dumbbell row is a fantastic functional movement that recruits key muscles on your arm and posterior chain. The single-arm row can be loaded to a specific weight to suit your capacity. If you do not have a dumbbell at home, you can easily replace this with an old milk container or another item in your house you can grasp!
How to perform the Single Arm Bent Over Dumbbell Row:
The Bench Push Up is an upper-body pushing exercise requiring equipment other than yourself and a stable surface. This movement can be progressed through choosing a lower surface, i.e. flow, or regressed through completing on a surface with less incline, i.e. wall.
How to perform the Bench Push Up:
The step up is a single leg movement that can be performed by most physical fitness levels by adding load or increasing/decreasing the height of the step where possible.
How to perform the step up:
The plank is a common core exercise used to strengthen the Anti-Extension pattern of our core. The plank can simply be progressed by holding the movements for a longer duration.
How to perform the Plank:
Aerobic exercise has been found to increase mobility and help relieve the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Aerobic exercises include all sorts of general exercises that you may already do as part of your daily routine, like house cleaning, grocery shopping or gardening.
For maximum benefit, 150 minutes of general aerobic exercise per week is a good goal to try and meet. This could be a long walk once a week, or a 30-minute exercise session five times a week.
Water exercise is a great form of aerobic exercise for those suffering from Osteoarthritis, as the buoyancy of the water means less weight bearing on your affected joints. Some other aerobic exercises that are beneficial for osteoarthritis are listed below:
When a patient is diagnosed with osteoarthritis, they're often referred to a podiatrist who can suggest stretches, exercises, and treatments to increase mobility and help with pain relief. But, once your exercise program is decided on, when should you head back? If you have noticed an escalation in osteoarthritis pain symptoms, you can go for a quick check-up with a podiatrist. However, if you see a difference in your health - like joint pain in a different area, escalated arthritis pain, additional arthritis symptoms, or mobility problems - you should schedule an appointment to get professional advice from your doctor and podiatrist.