Do you have arthritis and want to stay active and participate in sports?
Don’t let your condition hold you back!
While some sports may be off-limits for those with arthritis, plenty of activities can provide an excellent workout while being gentle on your joints.
In this post, you’ll see some of the best sports for arthritis, along with tips and tricks for getting started and staying motivated.
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting, there’s a sport out there that’s perfect for you.
Overview of Arthritis and sports
There are a lot of myths about the connection between sports and arthritis, and while sports do not cause arthritis, there are certain situations where a connection can be created.
Simply put, sport does not cause arthritis. However, if you get injured, specifically if you damage your joints frequently during sporting activities, you can increase the risk of developing arthritis.
The constant, forceful impact on your joints might damage your cartilage and cause permanent injury to your joints.
So, if you engage in low-impact sports with a reduced risk of injuries, you won’t develop arthritis or worsen your condition (if you are diagnosed already).
As we’ve established that engaging in high-impact sporting activities with increased chances of strain or injury to your joints can cause or aggravate arthritis, it can seem discouraging for any sports lover.
However, do not let your arthritis define you. There’s not much you can’t do depending on your diagnosis, the type of sport, and you!
A close friend doubted my success when I wanted to become a personal trainer. It doesn’t matter if it was with good intentions or not.
However, I’m a successful personal trainer today and am not even close to being done.
When I wanted to participate in my first bodybuilding competition, my rheumatologist wasn’t so sure about it, but I knew myself, knew my limits, and had faith.
I participated and went to my next appointment with my medal and a big smile.
So, in essence, you know yourself better than everyone, and you should be able to decide what sport you can do.
You know how far you can push yourself, and there are measures you can put in place while engaging in these sporting activities, like the use of ergonomics, self-pacing, modifications, and of course, carrying your rheumatologist along every step.
How sports benefit people with Arthritis
The benefits of sports for arthritis are similar to that of exercising.
Increases strength and endurance
Creating a constant routine that involves stress helps to increase your body’s strength and endurance levels.
You can raise your strength threshold by constantly exposing your body to an activity that challenges its default settings.
Increases joint mobility and flexibility
Sports often involve stretching and constant movements, which increase joint mobility and flexibility.
It also helps to increase the range of motion in your joints.
Helps to manage weight
Just like exercising, sports help you manage your weight because you burn fat and prevent any build-up.
Improves mental health
For a sports lover who gets diagnosed with arthritis, the limitations that come with it can have an impact on their mental health.
However, safely engaging in sporting activities you previously loved and modifying them to suit your present condition can work wonders for your mental health.
Improves cardiovascular health
Sports, like any other exercise, help to increase blood flow due to the constant movement and motion.
This increased blood flow helps to maintain and improve your cardiovascular health.
It is counterproductive to say that engaging in sport (generally seen as a stressful activity) helps to reduce stress.
But, this has proven to be true over time and might be connected to the fact that you can pace yourself when engaging in sports. You are doing what you love and spending energy but in a good way.
It doesn’t just help with physical stress but also emotional and mental stress.
Sporting is an enjoyable exercise that can help improve your social life. You create relationships with people and have a great time while caring for your body.
It’s a win-win.
Helps you find peace
As said earlier, if you love sports, engaging in sporting activities will help you stay sane and find peace with yourself and the world.
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Factors to consider when choosing a sport
If you are a sports lover and are interested in pursuing your passion as a career or a hobby, here are some things you should consider:
Impact on joints.
When deciding on which sport to play with arthritis, you have to consider the impact on your joints. You should be able to evaluate how much influence the sport will have on your joints and how much an injury while playing that sport will affect you.
For example, will it lead to fractures, ligament injuries, direct cartilage injuries, dislocations, and so on?
Amount of joint mobility required.
How much and for how long will you be required to move your joints? How much force is needed for each movement?
You need to know because as much as it is good to move your joints, too much movement and strain will only increase inflammation and cause more pain.
Physical fitness level.
What extent of physical fitness does the sport require? Physical fitness level is vital to know if it is something you can keep up with.
Suppose it requires you to constantly carry out strengthening exercises and other routines your body cannot permit. In that case, avoiding exposing your body (especially your joints) to too much is best.
Type and severity of arthritis.
This factor is vital to consider when choosing a sport. For example, most of my movement restrictions are in my wrists, which means I can’t engage in a sport involving a lot of wrist movement, like weightlifting and possibly a lot of grabbing.
You should consider the type and the severity of your arthritis and avoid sports that put your affected joint health in jeopardy along with the other joints in your body.
Is the sport you are going into that much of an interest to you? This is important because you need at least a level of interest in the sport to maintain consistency.
The desire to succeed at it is enough passion for you to maintain the consistency needed; you can also build more interest as you engage.
Ideal sports for arthritis and why
Golf is an ideal sport for arthritis warriors because it is a low-impact activity that can improve balance, flexibility, and coordination. You don’t need much strength and can always do it at your own pace.
Swimming is one of the ideal sports for arthritis. It is a low-impact aerobic exercise that is perfect for people with arthritis. It provides a full-body workout without excessive strain on the joints and supports joint mobility.
Cycling is great for building lower body strength in people with arthritis. It is also considered a low-impact exercise and helps improve cardiovascular health by increasing blood flow, especially to the lower parts of your body. This sport is excellent if arthritis mainly affects your knee, ankles, toes, and hips.
Triathlon combines other low-impact sports like cycling and swimming. A marathon might be too much for you. However, engaging in a triathlon will help your body keep up without pressure and support overall general health.
This sport is not a low-impact exercise, but it had to be on this list because it is what I do. It is an excellent sport for arthritis because it is a strength training exercise that will help to build your muscles and reduce the burden from your joints. It also aids with weight management and provides you with a full-body workout.
6. Cross-country skiing
This is another low-impact sport you can engage in if you have arthritis. It provides a full-body workout and can be modified to suit your ability. For example, you don’t need to go the entire length of the exercise.
However, wear heated clothes and protect your joints well if you go cross-country skiing.
7. Aerobic sports
Aerobic sports elevate your heart rate by using oxygen to produce energy through your body’s metabolic system. These aerobic sports include swimming, cycling, hiking, running, dancing, etc. These sports are referred to as ‘cardio.’ They are often low-impact and suitable for your body.
Canoeing is a low-impact sport you can do even if you have arthritis. It can also be modified to suit your physical condition or limitations and helps mainly with your wrist and shoulder joints.
9. Water jogging
Water jogging is jogging in water.
Water jogging is preferable to basic jogging because it reduces the strain on your joints. It is a low-impact sport and one of the ideal sports for arthritis.
Tennis is not a low-impact sport because it involves running around and jumping. To reduce this, you can engage in doubles tennis to minimize the area you have to cover and expel energy. It helps coordination and balance. However, tennis is not a good sport if you’re overweight because the impact on your joints will increase.
Tips for playing sports with arthritis
If you can play the sport you like, here are some tips you need to remember as you engage in these sports for arthritis:
Carry your doctor along ALWAYS.
Your doctor, specifically your rheumatologist, must be aware of any sport or activity you engage in to prepare yourself for any occurrence.
Even though there is space for self-advocacy and making decisions for yourself, you should keep to your doctor’s advice as much as you can.
Always warm up.
Never start a game or an activity without first warming up. Warming up prepares your body (muscles, joints, etc.) for what is to come and allows it to adjust. Going into an activity without warming up can shock your joints and muscles and cause pain.
Try modifications for yourself.
If your body cannot meet the requirements of the sport you love, try to pace it down to what you can do—for example, engaging in doubles tennis instead of single tennis or doing power walking instead of running or jogging.
Wear joint protective gear.
No matter how low-impact your sport is, ensure your joints are always protected. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. When engaging in sports for arthritis, the weakest part of your body is your joints; you have to protect them from impact and use gears that can help to support the pressure you place on them, no matter how little.
$31.44 – $35.44
$28.95 – $32.95
$28.45 – $31.44
$36.50 – $39.95
$28.95 – $32.95
I know you are strong, and you believe in yourself but do not put your body and joints under more pressure than it can take. Never overdo any form of exercise or activity when dealing with arthritis.
Use anti-inflammatory supplements.
Use anti-inflammatory supplements to help reduce inflammation in your body. It is necessary because constant sporting activities may make your joints prone to getting inflamed. With these anti-inflammatory supplements, you can reduce the chances of inflamed joints.
Utilize natural remedies for arthritis.
Many natural remedies for arthritis do not involve medications or supplements, from aromatherapy to massages and herbs for arthritis. You can naturally reduce inflammation in many ways, and it is good to add this to your routine.
Have a stretching routine.
Stretching is a form of exercise where you reduce tension formed in your joints and muscles. It can be a form of warm-up but can also be done after an activity like sports.
There are different stretching exercises for arthritis, and you should incorporate them into your routine.
Staying active is essential for managing arthritis symptoms and maintaining overall health and well-being.
With the right approach and mindset, you can find different sports for arthritis that fits your needs and helps you stay motivated and engaged.
Remember to listen to your body, take things at your own pace, and consult your doctor or physical therapist before engaging in any sports.
With consistency and a positive attitude, you can enjoy the many benefits of staying active and participating in sports, no matter what challenges arthritis may present.
What has been your mindset about sports for arthritis warriors?