Osteoarthritis And Leg Strength

Osteoarthritis plays a major role in everyone’s life at some point. Millions of dollars are spent every year fighting the ravages of osteoarthritis through prescribed medication, physical therapy,and surgery. Though there is no known cure now for it, you as an individual can be pro-active in helping curtail the effects of OA through proper diet, exercise, and weight loss.

The lower extremities are more prone to osteoarthritis due to the long-term toll that weight-bearing or walking has on areas such as the knees and hips. The forces put through your hips and knees for instance is magnified according to our bodyweight.

When it comes to walking, the hip-joint takes on the following mechanical force of 1.3 to 5.8 times your bodyweight. Walking upstairs is three times your bodyweight, and running comes in roughly 4.5 times your bodyweight. And with the knee the forces can be as high if not higher.

One way you as an individual can lower the forces once osteoarthritis sets in and, help cushion the joints in the lower extremities is through an exercise program that is designed to keep the surrounding muscles strong and pliable.

For instance when it comes to your hips, making sure you keep up the strength in muscles such as the gluteus minimus and medius along with your gluteal or buttocks are vital in helping offset these forces that are magnified once a joint becomes arthritic.

In your knee, the muscles such as your quadriceps or thighs, the hamstrings and calf muscles play a major role in supporting the knee-joint. Osteoarthritis takes it toll slowly on these joint causing muscle weakness and atrophy. In turn, your muscles lose the ability to protect and absorb the forces you place through them with walking for instance, creating more pain and swelling and depending on how far advanced the arthritis is, making it almost impossible to carry out daily functions.

Once you lose the ability to walk or stay physically active, you not only begin to speed up the arthritic effects on the joint but, you also become deconditioned and your overall physical conditioning deteriorates.

There are several ways all of us who suffer with arthritis can stay active but it generally helps to find activities that are non weight-bearing such as biking and swimming. These activities are pain-free yet very effective.

If you are still active and able to visit a local fitness center or gym, you will be guided on exercises such as the leg extension, the leg press and hamstring curls. Also it pays to talk to your orthopedic doctor or better yet, a physical therapist to make sure you are using these exercises correctly.

Of course the amount of exercise and style will greatly depend on how far advanced the arthritis is, your age and, general physical condition. Make sure you discuss with your doctor any exercise program you wish to start if you are not accustomed to exercise.

Stronger joints through exercise will slow down the effects of arthritis and help greatly in alleviating pain associated with walking and other daily activities which allows you to ultimately postpone total joint replacement.