Staying Fit: Rich Weil, MEd, CDE
Make the most of your fitness activities
Member question: What is the best workout for a painful arthritic knee? It seems the more I work it the more stiffness there is in it. I like walking, but it stiffens up a lot after walking. It also has had many operations on it: cartilage, ACL repair, and debridement. Can you suggest anything for me?
Weil: My best suggestion is water classes, water aerobics, or swimming. You can check the arthritis foundation web site for water classes that they sponsor all over the country. There may be one in your area. Otherwise, check your local recreation center or Y to find out if they have water classes. If water classes are not available, then a gentle stretch class and tone class at your gym will help.
You also need to use pain as your guide. If, after a proper warm-up your muscles feel more limber and warm, it will be OK to continue. If the muscles feel stiff and tight, it means you need to spend more time on the warm-up and on stretching.
And finally, a safe routine of weight lifting to strengthen the legs, particularly the muscles around the knees, can be very helpful and alleviate some of the symptoms of arthritis. A fitness trainer at your gym or a physical therapist who you could be referred to by your physician could help design and develop these exercises for you; that would be quite helpful. The Arthritis Foundation may also have information on strengthening the muscles around the joints.
You may want to speak to your physician about the latest treatments, including medication to help you continue your activity.
One point is very clear: people with arthritis do best when they are physically active. So I encourage you to pursue any or all of the options that I've mentioned.
Member question: I need help getting my inner thighs in shape. I currently run for about 40 minutes three to four times a week and do strength training on my legs (adduction machine) two times a week. But my inner thighs still touch!