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Ask the doc………I have arthritis in my knee and hip

By Dr. Lou Pack | 7/25/2014, 10:33 a.m.
“I have arthritis in my knee and hip. My doctor told me that it’s good to exercise but when I ...
Exercise can also keep joints healthy too.

“I have arthritis in my knee and hip. My doctor told me that it’s good to exercise but when I do it hurts. Should I do it anyway?”

One of the most misleading things patients with arthritis are told is to simply exercise….”use it or lose it.” But hear me clearly; using a joint in poor alignment will ultimately destroy that joint. It is the major cause for the weight bearing joints of our knees and hips to wear out to begin with, as well as the major reason replaced joints will also need replacing yet again.

Exercise is good. Exercise is great. I’m an enthusiastic advocate of exercise. As crazy as it sounds, given the choice between three hours of sleep and no exercise and two hours with it, I’d take the second option all the time. It’s wonderful for your heart, lungs, and muscles. It helps reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetic problems and the risks of cancer. Exercise can also keep joints healthy too. Best of all, exercise is great for clearing your head. I think that’s why some of the most talented people do their best work (thinking) while walking or running.

But like anything else, exercise must be done properly. A cliché I often use is that, “health is something you can go through on the way to fitness.” This is a very important concept to remember. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I see exercising at fitness centers, or running, ridding their bikes, playing tennis and golf, who are doing great things for their hearts and lungs while destroying their weight bearing joints.

If you have an older car it’s a good idea to drive it periodically. But if the wheels are poorly aligned and there is no air in the tires, driving it might not be the best thing to do. Precautions should be taken. The same is true of all of us. We must remember that we are not born perfect nor are we symmetrical. That means that all of us have structural imperfections that over time will erode our joints. So precautions should be taken before we exercise or the good we might otherwise do to our joints can be far outweighed by the destructive changes we can cause.

The first step of course is to make sure your primary physician (if other than the doctor treating your arthritis) has approved an exercise program for you. If need be, see a physical therapist or personal trainer to make sure you are stretching and exercising properly. Water aerobics is something else that can be very helpful as it allows you to exercise without any stress on your joints. And perhaps most importantly for your arthritis, make sure you are properly aligned….from the ground up…..meaning your feet!

Despite its critical importance, fixing your structure is often the missing link in the treatment of arthritis. Checking the web sites of nationally prominent organizations will clearly validate this. Unfortunately, the word structure or the importance of proper foot alignment isn’t even mentioned in preventing joint damage on many of these sites.