Aquatic Exercise and Arthritis
Arthritis is a condition in which the joints throughout the body become inflamed. It causes the joints (and sometimes muscles, tendons, and bones) to become very painful, swollen and stiff. This makes them all difficult to use properly. There are about 100 different diseases associated with arthritis. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For Americans, arthritis is one of the most common chronic health problems among people of all ages.
Treatment Methods for Arthritis
There are various treatments for the different forms of arthritis which include medications, massage, acupuncture, weight loss and exercise. Aquatic exercise, the use of low-impact exercise techniques while in water, can help with the symptoms of arthritis. It helps to take the tension and pressure off of the joints and muscles.
In water, muscle resistance is twelve times greater than usual. Buoyancy helps take about 90 percent of the feeling of weight off of the body, when up to about the neck in water. Although aquatic exercise is not a medicinal form of treatment for arthritis, it can have similar pain relief on the arthritis sufferer. Some types of aquatic exercise include warm massaging water while performing exercise moves.
Who Is Aquatic Exercise Best For?
This form of exercise is great for everyone, all ages and conditions. Even people who are non-swimmers, or use wheelchairs may practice aquatic exercises. There are so many forms of aquatic exercise, and there is something for everyone. Aquatic exercise particularly helps those with arthritis because of the weightless feeling it provides.
Aquatic Exercise Helps People with Arthritis
Aquatic exercise is especially ideal for people with arthritis because it is a way to keep the affected joints and muscles moving, maintaining their range of motion, without the risk of further injury. Many doctors "prescribe" aquatic exercise for their patients who are suffering from arthritis. If people with arthritis stop using the affected joints and muscles of their body, it is possible for them to lose the use or movement of it.
Types of Aquatic Exercises Best for Arthritis
- Flexibility: Range of motion and stretching exercises provide flexibility of joints and muscles. These types of exercises are helpful for people with rheumatoid arthritis. If the exercise is performed later in the day, it can help prevent some stiffness the next morning. This can be done by performing water yoga or pilates.
- Strengthening: While more difficult, this form of water aerobics can help strengthen muscles and joints. This can also help reduce bone loss that is caused by certain forms of inflammatory arthritis. These can be done with small hand-held weights.
- Aerobics: Rhythmic exercise moves that use large muscle groups to perform. There are specific water aerobics courses that focus solely on aerobics.
- Body Awareness: These exercises focuses on relaxation, posture, balance, and coordination. It can help a person cope with arthritis and can be done by also performing water yoga or tai chi.
Aquatic exercises are a beneficial form of arthritis treatment and relief for many. A doctor may be able to suggest exercises or a place to get involved in aquatic exercise.
Photo Credit: Jim Bahn