Sport for osteoarthritis

Sport for osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common disease of old age. But more and more young people are also affected: the joints hurt, are swollen and restrict mobility – which is why most of those affected quickly lose the desire to do sports. But sport is essential, especially with arthrosis. Because with the right sports, the symptoms of arthrosis can be alleviated.

Arthrosis: Gradual wear and tear on the joints

We use our joints throughout our lives. Climbing stairs, lifting objects, standing up, sitting down – and our body weight is always there.

Understandably, signs of wear and tear appear with age. The soft cartilage surrounding our bones becomes more porous and thinner until it’s no longer there: bone rubs against bone. This process causes pain, gradual joint wear and tear, and arthrosis.


Young people can also have osteoarthritis.

Along with cardiovascular diseases and dementia, arthrosis is one of the three most important diseases in old age. But more and more young people are also affected: An accident, a congenital deformity, obesity, joint inflammation and certain metabolic diseases can be causes of arthrosis.

In particular, the large joints of the body, such as knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and wrists, then show the symptoms typical of arthrosis. Pain and functional limitations make those affected hardly move or be physically active. But that’s precisely what they should do. Sports with arthrosis alleviate the symptoms and can even stop the wear and tear in the best case.

Sport as a prevention for arthrosis?

When we move, our joints produce a lubricating substance called synovial fluid. It has a cushioning effect, like a lubricant, so to speak, and thus ensures smooth mobility. It also contains nutrients that nourish the cartilage, thus keeping this protective layer of the joint surfaces alive.

Regular training also strengthens our muscles and, thus, the holding apparatus that surrounds and stabilizes our joints. Therefore, exercise is essential to prevent arthrosis. But sport is recommended for those who are already ill.


Not every sport is good for osteoarthritis.

However, not every type of sport is suitable for arthrosis patients. Rapid starts and stops, such as in tennis, should be avoided. Other ball sports are also generally not recommended, as they often require quick changes of direction and abrupt movements.

With osteoarthritis, the joints should be subjected to little to no weight, which is why sports such as skiing or excessive strength training are prohibited. In general, it can be said that extreme sports, competitive sports and competitions should be avoided.

Swimming with osteoarthritis

Swimming is considered a panacea against all forms of osteoarthritis. Whether you have knee, hip, shoulder or ankle arthrosis – the weightlessness in the water relieves the pressure on the joints and reduces the body weight on them. In addition, when you move in the water you experience a pleasant massage effect and your heart rate is reduced by the water pressure.

Swimming also promotes coordination, endurance and muscle building. The latter is further increased by the water resistance. Freestyle swimming and backstroke swimming are ideal for osteoarthritis. Because if you have knee or hip joint arthrosis breast swimming puts unfavorable strain on the joints.

Aqua jogging as an alternative to swimming

Aqua jogging offers an interesting change from swimming. This sport burns around 400 calories in 30 minutes and weight loss occurs quickly if you are overweight. However, you should pay attention to the correct technique:

  1. Tense your stomach
  2. Elbow flexion at a 90 degree angle
  3. upright posture
  4. opposite arm and leg movements


Cycling for osteoarthritis

The second best sport for osteoarthritis is cycling: both cycling trips and cycling on the home trainer (ergometer) are well suited. In both cases it is extremely important to adjust the bike individually correctly:

  • When sitting upright on the saddle, your straight leg should reach the pedal.
  • The handlebars must be set higher than the saddle.
  • Contact with the pedal occurs between the ball of the foot and the midfoot.
  • A grip gear or bottom bracket shifter helps with hand arthritis.
  • The knee angle should be more than 90 degrees. The knee angle is the angle between the upper and lower leg that is reached when you just start to press down the pedal.

The bike should also have as many gears as possible so that the resistance can be optimally adapted to the respective requirements. In general, you should prefer the lower gears when driving.

Ideally, the cadence is between 80 and 100 pedal revolutions per minute, with the legs never fully extended. The same applies to the ergometer: low wattage (25-50 watts) at high cadence.

Jogging for osteoarthritis

In principle, there is nothing wrong with jogging if you have osteoarthritis as long as a few points are taken into account. The most important requirement is well cushioned shoes that cushion the weight. Because when we run faster, we put 2.5 – 3 times our body weight on our hips, knees and ankles.

Routes that lead uphill or downhill and asphalted paths should be avoided. It is better to run on a flat forest path because it protects your joints.

Nordic Walking bei Arthrose

Better than jogging for osteoarthritis Nordic walking, because this sport uses special sticks for support. This means the body weight is distributed and the strain is only half as great as when jogging. The upper body muscles are also challenged, an advantage that Nordic walking has over normal walking.

For osteoarthritis patients, it is particularly important to pay attention to the correct technique when Nordic walking – the so-called ALFA technique:

  • A: upright posture
  • L: langer Arm
  • F: flacher Stock
  • A: adjusted stride length


Medical training therapy for osteoarthritis

This training program, which is supervised by a doctor, combines several sports exercises. Elements from strength and endurance sports as well as coordination and stretching exercises are used under professional guidance. The body is challenged as a whole, because the holistic training approach also takes individual breathing and the cardiovascular system into account.

The rule of thumb for the ideal pulse rate is: 180 minus age

The movement sequences you have learned can also be carried out at home.

Other useful sports for osteoarthritis

In winter, Cross-country skiing is an option for osteoarthritis patients, as this sport puts a lot of strain on the body’s joints.

If you would rather train at home instead of outdoors, you should Gymnastics try it out. The advantage of this sport is that no stress is placed on the joints, but rather the ligaments and tendons are stretched. This has a positive effect on mobility and also helps relax the muscles. In principle, a stretching exercise session should also be carried out after every other training session.

7 general tips for exercising if you have osteoarthritis

If you suffer from osteoarthritis and want to exercise, you should consider the following tips:

  1. In order to train effectively and really do something good for your body, athletic training should be tailored individually to the individual patient. This means that the workload must be adapted to your personal fitness and training level. Because osteoarthritis is caused, among other things, by too little exercise – but under certain circumstances it can also be caused by too much.
  2. So start by choosing exercises that are easy for you. You can then slowly build on these exercises.
  3. Care should be taken to ensure that the load is not too one-sided and that it is best to include the whole body in the training. a>
  4. It is very important that you are pain-free during training. This means that you should take it easy in phases in which the symptoms are more severe. 
  5. To achieve some regularity, choose at least three days a week that you use to train. Alternatively, 30 minutes a day is also a good solution.
  6. You can easily combine the training with your leisure activities because sport is probably the only therapy for osteoarthritis that can be fun.
  7. If you have problems motivating yourself on your own, find a sports group, because together Everything becomes easier.

If you have osteoarthritis, you can do something yourself through sport and, in the best case, even avoid an operation . You can also prevent other diseases through regular physical training. Talk to your doctor and start exercising today.

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