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Will I Do More Damage If I Exercise With Arthritis?

Knee Arthritis

Here's Aaron's latest article on Osteoarthritis, why you get pain and stiffness and what to do about it for the best...

Very commonly in clinic I am presented with an arthritic joint and explaining the condition to my clients they pose the question; so should I not exercise now? Will I be making it worse?

Osteoarthritis is caused through a structural change of joint cartilage wearing down therefore the typical gliding of a joint is compromised and ultimately causes pain. Due to it being a structural change it can’t be reversed but there are plenty of things that CAN be done to help the symptoms of arthritis.

Keep Moving

Exercise is THE best non-drug treatment for Osteoarthritis (OA). Exercise keeps the joints moving which increases mobility and flexibility and builds the strength of the muscles around the joint to helping to support it. The main thing about OA is understanding the condition and why you are experiencing pain and what you can do to help yourself.

I always tell my clients that OA can limit your abilities (depending on severity) in terms of what can be achieved both in terms of function and pain, if I told them any different I would be doing them a disservice. But one thing I will never do is stop them from exercising - it’s all about finding the right type of exercise their condition and symptoms can tolerate.

For example, if a client is displaying a high level of pain and loss of movement due to their arthritis, they may have to come away from activities such as spinning classes and high impact exercise classes such as HIIT (High intensity interval training) as this would flare up their symptoms but exercise is a great management tool for Osteoarthritis and shouldn’t be feared.

Get Those Muscles Strong

In OA there is a greater demand is placed on the muscles to support the joint. A well planned bespoke progressive rehabilitation exercise programme will expose the joint(s) and surrounding muscles to the movement patterns that replicate the activity you want to get back to and will prove beneficial. This will make sure the muscles are helping the joints out in the way we need them to – therefore decreasing your pain and stiffness so you don’t have to sit on the sidelines any longer!

Pilates, Yoga and Swimming are all great examples of how keeping things moving but decreasing the load on the joint through strengthening the surrounding muscles can be beneficial. We have a number of clients managing their arthritis successfully through the use of our bespoke exercise programmes and Pilates classes and are all seeing and feeling the benefits.

One phase I love when managing Osteoarthritis is “MOTION IS LOTION!!”

For more tips like this to help ease pain and stiffness in your knee visit here: www.wdcphysio.wpenginepowered.com/physiotherapy/knee-pain – to get your free copy of my knee pain report which reveals 7 simple ways to end it to help get you exercising again.

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– by lead Physiotherapist Wendy McCloud



Wendy founded WDC in September 2006. She has worked in both the public and private sectors. Within the NHS, Wendy worked as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and an Extended Scope Practitioner Physiotherapist as part of an Orthopaedic Consultant’s team specialising in Shoulder Pain. Wendy has treated royalty for Shoulder pain through referrals from her close links with a top Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon. More recently, Wendy has been the sole choice physiotherapist for all Essex-based referrals from London Shoulder surgeon Mr Matthew Sala. Wendy also worked within the national rugby union as the head physiotherapist for Southend Rugby Football Club. She led the medical service at the club for 11 years, working with players who achieved county honours and representative honours for various countries such as England, Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand.
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