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Managing Osteoarthritis Pain Through Exercise Guide to Movement for Joint Health

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common joint condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility. While there is no cure for OA, there are several strategies that can help manage its symptoms and improve quality of life

One of the most effective and accessible methods is exercise. Contrary to the belief that exercise may exacerbate joint pain, appropriate physical activity can alleviate discomfort and enhance joint function in individuals with OA.

Understanding Osteoarthritis- Before delving into exercise strategies, it's important to understand the nature of osteoarthritis. OA occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time, leading to friction between bones and resulting in pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected joint(s). While OA commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and spine, it can also occur in other joints like the hands and feet.

The Benefits of Exercise - Exercise is a cornerstone of OA management because it offers numerous benefits for joint health and overall well-being. Regular physical activity helps strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected joints, providing added support and stability. It also promotes flexibility and range of motion, preventing stiffness and enhancing mobility. Additionally, exercise can help manage weight, reducing the stress on weight-bearing joints and relieving pain.

Recommended Exercises - When designing an exercise program for individuals with OA, it's essential to focus on activities that are low-impact, joint-friendly, and tailored to individual needs and abilities. Here are some recommended exercises for managing osteoarthritis pain:

1. Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises: Activities such as walking, swimming, and cycling are excellent choices for cardiovascular fitness without putting excessive strain on the joints. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

2. Strength Training: Strengthening exercises help build muscle around the joints, providing better support and protection. Focus on exercises that target major muscle groups, including the legs, hips, arms, and core. Start with light weights or resistance bands and gradually increase intensity as tolerated.

3. Flexibility and Range of Motion Exercises: Gentle stretching exercises can improve flexibility and range of motion in stiff joints. Incorporate stretching into your daily routine, focusing on areas of tightness and discomfort. Yoga and tai chi are also beneficial for improving balance and flexibility.

4. Water-Based Exercises: Aquatic exercises, performed in a pool or shallow water, offer the benefits of resistance training with minimal stress on the joints. Water provides buoyancy and support, making it easier to move and exercise without aggravating joint pain.

It is important the you choose the correct form of exercise. Yoga for example can be too stressful for some people, and excessive walking can be excessive for some knees and hips.

Tips for Getting Started - Before starting any exercise program, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly a Physiotherapist, to develop a safe and effective plan tailored to your individual needs. Here are some additional tips for exercising with osteoarthritis:


- Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.

- Listen to your body and modify or stop exercises that cause pain or discomfort.

- Use proper technique and form to avoid injury.

- Incorporate a variety of exercises to target different muscle groups and prevent boredom.

- Stay consistent with your exercise routine to maximize benefits and long-term results.

Conclusion - Exercise is a powerful tool for managing osteoarthritis pain and improving joint function. By incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routine and choosing activities that are gentle on the joints, you can alleviate discomfort, increase mobility, and enhance your overall quality of life. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program, and don't hesitate to seek guidance from a physical therapist for personalized advice and support on your journey to better joint health. With dedication and perseverance, you can take control of your osteoarthritis and enjoy a more active and fulfilling life. Our GET ACTIVE classes are an excellent way to start an exercise program. Contact reception and ask for an appointment with our Exercise Physiologist if you are interested in starting a program.

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