by Lori Michiel, NASM-CPT Sep 1, 2015
Stay active – isometric exercises can help, even during painful flares
When I wake up some mornings, I can feel my hip or knee starting to talk to me; and the conversation doesn’t go very well. Of course the voice is louder and more irritating on cold, damp days but even when the weather is fine, I know there is still that underlying voice. I need to get moving and not let the discomfort get the best of me.
It’s no secret that including strength training in your regular exercise routine can help manage arthritis symptoms – and you don’t need weights to do it. Isometric exercises can build strength with less pain.
Isometric exercises allow you to contract certain muscles without moving a joint as we do in strength exercises using weights or bands. Since isometric exercises don’t apply pressure on joints, they are safe options for people with severe arthritis or those experiencing a flare up. These small motions can still deliver big results. According to a review of 35 studies published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, at-home isometric quadriceps exercises were just as effective as walking workouts in easing pain in people with knee osteoarthritis.
Another study, published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, showed that arthritis patients who did isometric exercises three times a week experienced similar improvements in their range of motion, and function as those who performed traditional strength training. The “isometric group had greater reduction in pain,” says lead author Robert Topp, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Research at Marquette University College.
Example for your quadriceps: Start by either standing or sitting. Squeeze your upper thigh muscles. I recommend that you contract your muscles for 5 to 10 seconds; repeat 10 to 15 times. Do not hold your breath. If you stand, you will feel your knees contract as well.
Once you have learned the proper technique, you can do them anywhere. For more information on this or other techniques, private training, stretch classes, program design and more, visit our website at www.lorimichielfitness.com