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Weight Lifting with Arthritis: Is It Good or Bad for You?

CreakyJoints reports weight lifting is healthy for patients with arthritis, as it is a form a strength training that helps keep the muscles strong, and strong muscles support the joints.

CreakyJoints spoke to Karen M. Sutton, MD, sports medicine surgeon at HSS, who explained as muscles become engaged and strengthen, they absorb some of the force, which takes pressure off of weaker, worn-out joints. Inactivity due to joint pain can also contribute to bone loss, as does aging more so for women. Dr. Sutton added weight lifting can also improve balance. Strengthening your core can help increase coordination and prevent falls, and also make it easier to do everyday activities that are difficult with arthritis (i.e., carrying groceries or gardening).

While weight lifting can help patients living with arthritis, its important to speak with your doctor first. Dr. Sutton provided tips for arthritis patients to consider when beginning to lift weights, noting dumbbells may be safer than a barbell – as dumbbells allow you to work one arm or shoulder at a time, whereas barbells require both simultaneously. Choosing the proper weight to lift is also important. “Lighter weights with more reps will offer more benefits than fewer reps with super heavy weights,” said Dr. Sutton.

Additionally, Dr. Sutton recommended doing five or 10 minutes of stretching at the start and end of your workout to stretch the muscles. “If you have arthritis joint pain, however, it’s important to extend the warmup a little longer,” she cited. “That way your joints begin producing lubricating fluid so they move easier,” she added.

Dr. Sutton advised doing muscle-strengthening exercises targeting all major muscle groups two to three times per week, with rest days in between. Start with the bigger muscles first (i.e., abs, buttocks, and chest), starting with a core-strengthening plank, then move onto the arms and legs, building up to 10 to 15 repetitions per exercise.

Read the full article at CreakyJoints.org.