Tag Archives: exercise and arthritis

What You Should Know About the Latest Fitness Fad: Stretching Gyms

While stretching is an important part of any workout, fitness studios known as stretching gyms make it the focus. Stretching instructors help lengthen and loosen muscles, either working one-on-one with clients and physically adding gentle pressure to deepen stretches, or by guiding a class through a series of stretches with props, such as foam rollers and bands. 

“There’s no question that stretching benefits people with arthritis,” says Cory Feger, a physical therapist in Louisville, Kentucky. “It improves range of motion, lubricates joints and increases blood flow to muscles.” But are these new gyms and classes safe for people with arthritis? While they can be useful, Feger recommends proceeding with caution. Here’s how: 

  1. ASK INSTRUCTORS ABOUT THEIR QUALIFICATIONS. What’s their background and experience working with people who have arthritis? Many instructors are personal trainers, massage therapists or yoga instructors but may not have experience with arthritis or chronic pain patients. 
  2. ALWAYS WARM UP FIRST. This allows deeper stretches for a longer period of time and decreases the risk of injury. Get moving with light exercise, such as walking. Or do dynamic stretches, such as leg swings and arm circles, which prepare your body for specific movements. 
  3. GO AT YOUR OWN PACE. Don’t try to keep up with everyone else in a class. “You don’t want to overdo it,” says Julie Jasontek, a physical therapist and supervisor of rehabilitation services at Mercy Health in Cincinnati. This may lead to an injury, such as a strained muscle. 
  4. AVOID BOUNCING. To lengthen muscle fibers and increase flexibility, hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, then releasand repeat. These are called static stretches. 
  5. DO STATIC STRETCHES AFTER WORKING OUT. After exercise, muscles are warmed up. Stretching also boosts circulation. As part of a cooldown, it also lowers your heart rate, which may help aid recovery. 
  6.  DON’T PUSH TOO HARD. Mild discomfort is normal, but stop if you feel a sharp or intense pain. 
  7. MAKE IT A REGULAR HABIT. To increase flexibility, stretch at least five times a week. 

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arthritis-friendly elliptical exercise

Elliptical Machines Go Easy on Your Joints

Keep your body moving if you have arthritis. Exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness as well as improve strength and balance.

But what type of exercise is best? An elliptical trainer is a good option. This minimal weight-bearing stationary exercise machine mimics walking with a gliding motion.

“The elliptical machine can be a beneficial form of exercise for people with knee and hip arthritis because it provides both strengthening and cardiovascular benefits while exerting less force on the joints,” says Maura Daly Iversen, DPT, MPH, a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association and Associate Dean of Clinical Education, Rehabilitation, and New Initiatives at Northeastern University in Boston.

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fusion workouts for arthritis

Go Hybrid for Your Arthritis Workout

Yogalates. Gyrotonics. Piloxing. They may be hard to pronounce, but fusion workouts – which combine moves from two or more disciplines, such as yoga and Pilates (yogalates) or water aerobics and tai chi (ai chi) – are increasingly popular.

“People love fusion fitness because it’s challenging and novel,” says Jessica Matthews, group fitness expert and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in San Diego and a fitness trainer who has trained people with arthritis.

But is it safe and worth your time? Fusion workouts can introduce you to other forms of exercise. Plus, “if you enjoy a particular type of exercise but are bored with your current routine, it’s a great way to break through the monotony,” says Matthews.

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