In this post I am going to talk specfically about osteoarthritis. I need to state there is no cure for osteoarthritis and whilst no single gene found has been found which indicates osteoarthritis there is research which shows a genetic factor. There is also an occupational factor so if you have a heavy physical work load then that is a risk. Along with the following
- regular stair climbing,
- whole body vibration
- repetitive movements.
Now that list may make you roll your eyes as most of them (apart from crawling!) are part of daily life but there are things that might be able to help slow down the process.
- Rosehip powder - whilst the evidence is sparse there is some that indicates that a good quality rosehip powder may reduce the pain of OA.
- Eat your brocolli - now I like this one purely because it urges you to eat a vegetable rich in vitamins A, C, folic acid, fiber, calcium and pottassium. However it also contains a glucoraphanin compound which our body turns into another compound, called sulforaphane, which appears to protect the joints. Steam don't boil!
- Take a glucosamine sulfate supplement.Research has found some glucosamine sulfate may delay the progression of OA
- Ditch the soda -Soda May Worsen Knee Osteoarthritis in Men
- Lose a little weight Just 10% weight loss with a diet and exercise plan may relieve arthritic knee pain
- Increase muscle strength - a 5 year study to determine whether quadriceps weakness is associated with elevated risk of worsening knee pain found that quadriceps weakness was associated with an increased risk of worsening of knee pain over 5 years in women, but not in men.
The NHS Choices website page on prevention of osteoarthritis recommends you avoid weight training if you have osteoarthritis. I don't think the issue is quite that black and white and would depend on the person. Whilst I agree that taking up olympic lifting or powerlifting may not be the most sensible options stronger muscles take the stress off the joints and help support unstable joints. There are methods of strength training that will ensure you gain muscle strength without stressing the affected joint. In fact evidence has shown that incorporating strength training into an exercise programme decreased pain by 43% in osteoarthritic patients.
The current ACSM guidelines for people with arthritis is cardiovascular work 30-60 minutes 5 days per week accompanied by resistance training with major muscle groups twice a week and flexibility activities. However if you are not currently active these are long term goals and you could start out slowly with 2-3 short sessions a day. This DVD is recommended by the The Centre for Healthy Ageing Research and Arthritis Research UK has several exercise sheets you may find useful.
Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.