Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise
For those with RA, exercise can be extremely useful in managing pain and symptoms if executed properly along with nutrition and supplementation. Since RA can cause severe joint pain and, long term, a reduced range of motion, the primary goal when programming is pain management and flexibility. Once we have those consistently managed, any secondary goals (weight loss or building muscle mass) can become the focus.
The first and foremost part of a program for clients with RA is a stretching routine. When implemented first thing in the morning, a stretching program will mobilize and lubricate joints after a night of sleep.
Stretching and slowly moving through full range of motion with joints that have pain or tend to have flare ups is going to be extremely beneficial in mitigating pain for the rest of the day. Go through 5-6 stretches each morning, holding them for 20 seconds each and then moving through the full range of motion with that movement.
Weight lifting and building up strength in joints is one of the best remedies for joint pain. Consider a lifting program that is at least 30 minutes of heavy, medium rep range movements that are low impact. As with stretching, utilize your full range of pain free motion and avoid things that are jarring to your joints.
Cardio is simple and follows similar rules as above; low impact as possible. try ellipticals, bikes or even a stair master if it doesn't cause pain. Another popular alternative is swimming because it's low impact and creates a limited gravity environment. Swimming can be also used for therapy for flaring joint pain.
This is a basic cover of the way exercise can help with RA. If you have more questions, reach out and ask us, we would love to help!