Keeping Active by Swimming
For those with joint pain and arthritis, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. That’s because impact sports like jogging and tennis can be hard on joints and give you more pain than you had before exercising. The good news is that there are exercise alternatives which relieve joint pain without additional stress and pressure. The answer is swimming.
The Effect of Swimming on Joints
It is extremely important for arthritis sufferers to develop regular exercise routines to preserve strength and flexibility. Inactive joints can become stiff and swollen if not exposed to regular movement, but physical activity often seems too daunting for those with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. MD Patience White has this to say about swimming: “Being in the water ‘unweights’ your joints, which is really great for people who have a lot of pain.” It takes the pressure of gravity off of the joints and allows swollen muscles to relax.
Benefits of Swimming
Other benefits of swimming include increased balance and coordination, better joint mobility, and improved range of motion. For those with high levels of pain, doctors suggest swimming in heated pools for better results.
Advantages of swimming include total-body involvement, cardiovascular exercise, and muscle resistance for strength building. After incorporating a regular swimming routine into everyday life, many people find it easier to complete normal tasks, like cleaning the house or mowing the lawn.
Alternatives to Swimming
While swimming is the most common water activity, other options exist for those unable to swim for a number of different reasons. Try these two alternatives for a well-rounded routine:
- Water Walking. Water walking can be done in both shallow and deep depths. In deep depths, a flotation belt is needed to keep you upright and floating at the appropriate height. The idea is to walk chest-deep through the water the same way you would on land. For added intensity, try lifting your knees to your chest and pumping your arms and legs faster for brief periods of time.
- Water Yoga. Very similar to standard yoga, water yoga consists of low-impact exercises adapted to work in the confines of a swimming pool. Water yoga is good for increasing flexibility and building strength, without putting added stress on joints.
If you suffer from arthritis, don’t let the fear of impact sports keep you from exercising. Swimming allows you to build strength, reduce swelling, and keep joints moving, without putting your body at an additional risk.