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Why arthritis is not ‘wear and tear’ & why exercise helps!

Wear and tear’ is a term that has been used to describe arthritis for many years. We know a more helpful way of thinking about the natural and normal arthritic process is ‘wear and repair’. Our body and our joints are constantly regenerating.

Many people think that exercise makes arthritis worse or leads to arthritis, but this is absolutely not the case! As well as numerous other benefits, exercise builds confidence, strength, balance and reduces systemic inflammation systemically. We also know that a graded exposure to pain has a huge impact on physical function/activity levels and pain reduction.

Cartilage covers our joints and is made up from mostly water held together by type 2 collagen fibres. The mechanical forces of movement help to push water in and out of our cartilage to keep it healthy. When we stop moving for long periods, or avoid certain movements, joints feel stiffer. For example, arthritic joints tend to feel stiffer in the morning, or after sitting for prolonged periods. During these times, the water in the cartilage can become stagnant and you can get a build-up of cellular waste products. This can be likened to dirty sponge that has not been squeezed for a while. When we squeeze the sponge, it flushes out the old dirty water and allows fresh water in. Exercise encourages ‘flushing out’ dirty waste products and encourages fresh nutrients into the cartilage. Although this is not the only way that exercise helps to reduce pain and disability with arthritis, it is a positive reason to exercise with arthritis, along with the other many benefits of exercise.

It is important to grade exercise and expose painful joints to exercise appropriately, at the right level for you.

Call Harbourside to book an assessment today! We can help you to increase your activity levels, strength, movement and reduce pain associated with arthritis.

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