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Fighting Arthritis? Strengthen Your Muscles

Arthritis may be a joint disease, but strengthening the muscles is an important component in its treatment. That is because a leading cause of limited movement in people with arthritis—especially, for instance, knee arthritis—is the weakening of surrounding muscles, rather than pain, dysfunction or abnormalities in the joint itself. This raises an important question: Is the muscle weakness caused directly by the arthritis, or do the initial arthritis pain and the subsequent lessening of normal muscle use cause a decrease in muscle tone, thus further weakening and leading to less use? It is a vicious cycle.
Experts know that the second scenario definitely plays a large role, although they are less certain about the first. But one thing is sure: It behooves you to strengthen the muscles near arthritic joints to help protect your mobility.
When your muscles are stronger, you can more effectively perform joint-specific range-of-motion exercises—not to mention crucial activities of daily living. This can help preserve the joints’ function for the longer term while also decelerating any progression of osteoporosis. Stronger muscles also tend to improve your balance, which is crucial as people age.
The kinds of muscle-strengthening exercises we suggest will vary, depending on your symptoms, of course. The most common ones include working against a resistance or weight. This resistance can be provided by water in a pool—sometimes the easiest and most soothing way to strengthen—or by elastic bands, hand-held weights or a weight-training machine. We often suggest eight to 10 different exercises, each to be repeated about 10 times, two or three times a week. As you become stronger, we will gradually increase the resistance or weight. And taking a warm bath or shower before performing exercises (muscle strengthening or other kinds) can make the movements of stiff or sore joints more comfortable.
People who exercise—including people with arthritis performing modified exercise—tend to sleep better, feel better emotionally, experience better overall health and even live longer. So, taking the time to work those muscles with a carefully planned exercise regimen, even when you may not really feel like it, will almost surely pay off in the long run.
 Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation located in the Gabriel Realty Building at One East Ridgewood Avenue in Wyckoff, NJ provides orthopedic and sports physical therapy services for the greater Ridgewood, Wyckoff, Oradell, River Edge, Westwood, Ho-ho-kus and Bergen County region.  This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. The views expressed here are the author’s views and should be taken as suggestions. Always consult your physician or healthcare practitioner before engaging in a orthopedic, cardiovascular or sports physical therapy rehabilitation program.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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