By Ebru Efe
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the health and function of the joint as a whole (cartilage, subchondral bone, ligaments, synovial inflammation and surrounding muscles). It affects a single joint, mostly commonly the hip, knee or finger joints. While it can be painful, this pain is not correlated to the degree of damage present, and is typically aggravated by inactivity and alleviated by regular movement.
Exercise and Osteoarthritis
In a healthy joint, the articular cartilage that lines bone is responsible for distributing loads and allowing smooth movement. The load placed on the joint (by activity) is responsible for stimulating and distributing synovial fluid inside the joint, which nourishes the cartilage. Within the cartilage, small proteins called proteoglycans play a key role in shock absorption and maintaining the cartilage matrix structure.
Moderate joint loading has been shown to promote the regeneration of proteoglycans, preventing the decrease observed in osteoarthritis. Research has indicated that healthy, appropriate loading through physical activity, such as walking and graduated strength training, can significantly decrease pain levels and improve function in hip & knee osteoarthritis.
How much is right for me?
An appropriate type and degree of land-based exercise is recommended for all people experiencing hip & knee osteoarthritis. Most people have experienced a decrease in activity levels during lockdown, while working from home and being less engaged with their broader community. This makes regular physical activity even more valuable and important, for both joint and overall physical health.