Osteoarthritis and Pilates

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis it affects the tissue of our joints. It tends to occur in joints that bear lots of weight like knees and feet and in joints that are used a lot in daily life like those in your hands.

Osteoarthritis is a disease that can affect any of the tissues within a synovial joint, it is the compromised tissue surrounding joints that creates pain.

Cartilage is a tough, flexible tissue that covers the surface of joints, acting as a shock absorber and allowing bones to slide over one another. When cartilage becomes worn or damaged, all the tissues within the joint become more active than normal as the body tries to repair the damage. The repair processes may change the structure of the joint, but will often allow the joint to work normally and without any pain and stiffness. Sometimes this repair process doesn’t go quiet to plan and we developed pain and stiffness.

For example:

Extra bone may form at the edge of the joint. These bony growths are called osteophytes and can sometimes restrict movement or rub against other tissues. In some joints, especially the finger joints, these may be visible as firm, knobbly swellings.

The lining of the joint capsule (called the synovium) may thicken and produce more fluid than normal, causing the joint to swell.

Tissues that surround the joint and help to support it may stretch so that after a time the joint becomes less stable.

Almost all of us will develop osteoarthritis in some of our joints as we get older, though we may not even be aware of it.

For more information on Osteoarthritis head to Versus Arthritis

The good news is exercise and leading a healthy lifestyle can help manage pain and symptoms of arthritis and although it cannot be cured it can be kept at a manageable level. Exercise is good for osteoarthritis, although resting the joint my, at first, cause some relief it will inevitably result in the joint becoming stiffer and the muscles around the joint becoming weak from inactivity. Therefore, staying active is key to a better quality of life.

How Pilates can help with treating arthritis?

Pilates is great for osteoarthritis because during a Pilates class we work our bodies in all planes of movement, taking the joints through their full range of motion, in fluid and gentle movements that don’t over stress or impact the joints heavily. Pilates is mainly a weight bearing exercise class, however the use of small weights (or cans if you don’t have them) and resistance bands adds a level of resistance training that is suitable for someone with osteoarthritis. Stretching is thought to help with blood flow and the delivery of nutrients to muscles and tendons. Better circulation may also serve to relieve aches and stiffness. Subtle improvements in posture may also result in fewer aches and pains.

Come and join one of my online Pilates classes via Zoom and find out how Pilates can help you. If you live in the Chichester area I also offer at home one to one Pilates classes inline with COVID guidance and restrictions.