Encouraging people to get moving is a key component of the national osteoarthritis awareness campaign. But certain sports can increase the load on joints, raising the risk of osteoarthritis over time. So how do you get fit while protecting your hips, knees, and ankles?
The answer is cross-training. It’s good to give your body a rest and switch to other activities from time to time. If you run, for example, take a day off every now and then and do something else, like work out on an elliptical trainer or bike. Also, during the same exercise session, it’s best to incorporate numerous small workouts (rather than just one long workout) to target all the major muscle groups. Taking a break from the same repetitive motions that exert a heavy load on your joints reduces stress and gives your joints a chance to rest.
In athletes — both professionals and amateurs — the risk of osteoarthritis rises with certain movements and injuries. For example:
With a little planning and variety, you can pursue the sports you love while being kind to your joints.
This article was adapted from the Spring 2011 issue of Health Connection, Hospital for Special Surgery’s patient education newsletter.