Lifting weights is a functional exercise that promotes longevity and independence for those suffering from arthritis. From using grip strength to open a soup can, unlocking a car door, lifting a pot off the stove, to engaging in sit-to-stand positions throughout the day, incorporating weights safely and effectively will improve joint stability. As a bonus, incorporating light weights will also reduce the risk of falls by strengthening stabilizer muscles.
Weight Lifting for Arthritis Best Practices
Lifting weights is a proven intervention to reduce arthritis pain and increase outcomes. Tips to train safely include the following:
Try resistance bands: Remove the need to hold weights and take the pressure off of fingers, hands, and wrists.
Utilize weight machines: These provide extra stability and control resistance to protect against injury and may be a great start before introducing light weights.
Start light: Use light weights, slow and controlled movements, and low repetitions. Lighter weights will help with greater range of motion and flexibility.
In addition, even before exercise begins, the use of heat to relax joints and muscles is a great way to relieve pains from stiff joints. Slowly and gradually adding movements aimed to assess and improve range of motion should also be implemented before including any weight.
Don’t be afraid to start with small cans or water bottles to not overdue wrist or elbow joints when performing bicep curls and use slow and basic movements. Joints may be uncomfortable, but should not be painful. Another great practice is to ice joints post-exercise to reduce the chance of swelling or discomfort.
When it comes to safe and effective exercises to improve the quality of life and decrease arthritis symptoms, weight lifting is a great option. With that said, it is also important to gain formal clearance from a doctor before seeking a medical fitness or highly qualified fitness professional.
For more information on serving members or consumers with arthritis, join me at my education session in partnership with MedFit, Better Service for the Arthritic Client, on Wednesday, June 22, from 1 - 1:45 p.m. at #IHRSA2022 in Miami Beach, FL, where I will discuss how health clubs, gyms, studios, and fitness professionals can better serve those with arthritis.
The Arthritis Fitness Specialist Course, offered by MedFit Education Foundation, is another great resource to check out. This course—and other specialist courses—are available through the MedFit Classroom.
View the full IHRSA 2022 agenda!