Lifestyle: Exercise

walkingExercise and Gout:

Although it may seem counterintuitive, gout sufferers should be encouraged to maintain an exercise regime; even during flare ups. Exercise is a vital part of maintaining strength and movement of the muscles. However, during a flare-up, it is important not to apply too much pressure to the affected joint. Patients should focus on eliminating the inflammation; which can be done with ice packs and medication. During this time, it is possible to move the joint through its full range of motion to prevent stiffness.

Regular exercise is important to increase flexibility and to keep muscles and joints strong. It can aid in preventing gout related flare-ups, speed up the recovery period when an attack does occur, and reduce the severity of the pain.  It is important to keep in mind that it is best to perform each motion with good form and in a smooth motion to prevent injury, especially to the joints.

Some types of exercises are better than others for the maintenance of gout. Low impact aerobics are ideal because they build endurance and strong bones. These low-impact exercises can include stair climbing, fitness walking, dancing, and low-impact cardio machines. Ideally, patients should try to exercise for 30-45 minutes 5 times a week.  Strength training will also help; stronger muscles aid in decreasing joint pain.  Strong muscles can support the joints better and their strength can prevent further damage.

Swimming and other water aerobics are some of the better exercises for those with joint pain, since they have zero impact on the joints due to the buoyancy of the water. These exercises are a good way to increase mobility and preserve joint function.

The ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi has also shown to be beneficial for those who suffer from arthritis, specifically gout. It can relieve pain and restore balance, strength, and flexibility, all while having low impact on the joints.  The main focus of this type of martial art is to create an inner stillness which allows users to relax and breathe.

Stretching before and after exercising is very important to restore joint motion and increase range of motion; decreasing the likelihood of injury while working out.

Patients should always check with their physician before beginning any sort of exercise regime, but these are some suggestions for low-impact ways to manage gout symptoms and prevent flare-ups:

Be sure to hold each stretch and smoothly move into each position without bouncing or jerking motions.

Stretch the shoulders by placing the hands at the sides and rolling the shoulders forward for a few seconds and then backwards for a few seconds.

The wrists can be stretched by making fists rolling the wrists around in a circle for about a minute.

The back and hamstrings can be stretched by sitting on the ground with the legs straight in front. Reaching for the toes and hold them for a few seconds.

Sources:

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=17748

http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/patient-support-12/slideshow-ra-exercises

http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/exercise-515640-5_2.html

http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/features/tai-chi-for-arthritis

http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/exercise-treat-arthritis

page last updated 26 June, 2014