4 Reasons Strength Training Will Help Your Arthritis
By: Elemental Fitness rheumatoidarthritis, elementalfitness, personaltrainingleeds
What we know and what we can do
What we know about arthritis is that it is a common illness that can start to affect people in their late 40s and most will have some form starting in their 60s or 70s (depending on severity). However, it has been shown to affect those young as 6 months old – a condition known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Generally, arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, it can affect one or multiple joints. There are different types of arthritis and there are different treatments to alleviate the symptoms.
In most cases arthritis is classed as a pathological condition and one that cannot be fully cured. Once the arthritis has been diagnosed, it is commonplace for doctors to prescribe painkillers to relive pain, and in some extreme cases, surgical operations can be required to replace the joint.
For most, people affected with arthritis doctors will generally prescribe just the painkiller, but this, in most cases, is not ideal.
Painkillers, as the name suggests, do not fix the problem, they just take the pain away leaving you to potentially compound further stresses and injury to the joints. As the pain will be constant without proper remedies, this can result in people taking even more painkillers to stop the pain which puts the liver at risk.
What if there was a solution to reduce the symptoms of arthritis without the need to take prescribed drugs which can in turn can improve quality of life?
A change of lifestyle is required with a look into nutrition and strength training. That’s how.
How does strength training affect arthritis?
Arthritis can make your bones and joints weaker either by reduction in bone density; or in in some forms of arthritis your auto-immune system can cause joints to swell and become inflamed. Resistance training is key as it will keep muscles stronger to support the joint.
This type of training stimulates your neuromuscular system, something that is required to improve not only the arthritis but other areas of your life.
The neuromuscular system includes all the muscles in the body and the nerves serving them. Every movement your body makes requires communication between the brain and the muscles. The nervous system provides the link between thoughts and actions by relaying messages that travel so fast you don’t even notice.
Nerves have cells called neurons. Neurons carry messages from the brain via the spinal cord. The neurons that carry these messages to the muscles are called motor neurons.
Each motor neuron ending sits very close to a muscle fibre. Where they sit together is called a neuromuscular junction. The motor neurons can release a chemical, which is picked up by the muscle fibre. This tells the muscle fibre to contract, which makes the muscles move.
With the absence of joint movement due to arthritis and not wanting to keep active, understandably, because of pain, means muscular atrophy can begin – loss of muscle mass and strength. It seems obvious but all those that live with arthritis that are solely on meds are generally worse off than those that incorporate resistance training from first diagnosis.
In short, keep your neuromuscular system active to build on muscle mass and improve joint strength in the process. Most diseases can be reduced or even cured having a better insight to human anatomy and physiology. Hence the blog. It is for you to read and treat yourself, so you are not relying on medication.
However, if you want to hear about medical studies and facts pertaining to the idea of resistance training improving arthritic pain, here are four reasons to start strength training.
It reduces pain
A study, published in the July 2012 International Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that men with rheumatoid arthritis affecting their knees had a 23 percent reduction in pain intensity after following a three-day-a-week strength-training program for eight weeks. Other studies show strength training relieves the pain of osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, too.
It increases range of motion
Another small study, published in the December 2011 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that participants who practised resistance training three days a week for five weeks had the same flexibility improvements as those who did a regular stretching routine.
It burns calories
Muscle burns calories, so adding muscle mass naturally amps up your calorie burn. In fact, an analysis of several studies, reported in the July-August 2012 Current Sports Medicine Reports, shows the number of calories you burn at rest rises about 7 percent after several weeks of resistance training.
It boosts bone density
Women lose up to 50 percent of their bone tissue in their lifetime, about half of it within 10 years after menopause. By age 65 or 70, men begin to lose bone mass at the same rate as women, according to the National Institutes of Health. Lifting weights can help slow that loss and increase bone density, according to a 2015 review in the scientific journal of the American Physical Therapy Association.
You can’t just focus on exercise to reduce symptoms of arthritis, nutrition is a key component to help promote improvement and a healthier lifestyle. A balanced diet can slow down the disease, giving the body the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for bone health can only promote this.
An example of what to consider are fatty fish, ginger, garlic, broccoli and spinach to name a few. It is also recommended that incorporating supplements in the diet such as vitamin d, omega 3 and magnesium can improve the intake of these vitamins and minerals when the diet might not. All of these helps give the bone the correct amount of minerals necessary to sustain the vitality and inhibit the onset of severe arthritis.
I would like to say that having arthritis, even if is a lifetime condition, doesn’t have to stop you doing what you love or just having a better quality of life. Training and eating well is the first step to getting your life back on track.