Is Pilates good for people with Arthritis?

Pilates is a great exercise for people with arthritis, as it is low impact exercise which focusses on strength and balance.

Pilates uses slow controlled movements so there is no strain of the joints, therefore you won’t be causing any further damage to the joints by doing Pilates.

It may feel like the last thing you want to do, but moving the joints can decrease arthritis pain. The expression “move it or lose it” is apt here. Movement helps keep the pain and stiffness of the joints at bay, much like motor oil lubricates the engine of your car. This is n’t to say that you will be completely pain free while doing Pilates. As you get the joints moving you will feel it! However, in the long run it will be doing good not harm.  Moreover, Pilates encourages the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Pilates enhances proprioception — the sense of the relative position of body parts. Improved body awareness can help individuals with arthritis move more cautiously and avoid movements that could exacerbate their condition.

If arthritis has caused you to have restrictions such as a joint not straightening or bending fully, being unable to kneel, or any other problems which make certain movements or positions difficult, this will not prevent you being able to do Pilates. All Pilates exercises can be adapted to accommodate any restriction. This might mean an exercise usually done on all fours is done in standing or extra cushions might be used under a joint to make it more comfortable. There are lots of options, so don’t worry about not being able to do somethings if you decide to take up Pilates. To get the best out of Pilates and to tailor the exercises to your needs I would recommend booking in for an individual session.

What Pilates does not provide for someone with arthritis is a cardiovascular workout. In other words, you are unlikely to get your heart rate up or be out of breath. Therefore, if you take up Pilates to maintain optimum health you will still need to do an activity which gets you puffing a bit. Walking or Swimming might be worth considering.

It’s important to choose the right kind of exercise, so as not to worsen your arthritis pain. With osteoarthritis, as well as with other forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, anything jarring to the joints is out. Instead, look for low-impact exercises that work on maintaining range of motion for the joints, as well as stretching and breathing. Pilates ticks these boxes.

Pilates is usually suitable for anyone with osteo or rheumatoid arthritis. However, it would be advisable to check with your GP before starting.

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