For my clients who have arthritis, I make sure I maintain an open line of communication throughout our sessions. I always ask if certain exercises are bothersome or painful, and I make adjustments if necessary. Even though I choose exercises that won’t irritate the joints, I still ask about comfort levels.
Continued learning is key: When I get a new client with arthritis, I research the best exercises for that person; which exercises to avoid (often twisting movements); times of day to exercise (mornings are better for many people, but whatever time of day the client is in the least amount of pain or discomfort is best); and the effects of arthritis medication on body composition and exercise tolerance.
With arthritic clients, I start their strength training on machines, to make sure their bodies have good support—especially if clients have back problems. As people get stronger, I incorporate more strength exercises away from the machines.
I also focus on low-impact exercise: no jumping, running, etc. Clients use recumbent bicycles (if they have back problems and a weak core), elliptical machines and stationary bikes; and they engage in water walking (we have a lazy river in our facility).
I encourage my clients to watch their diet and avoid inflammatory foods (e.g., sugar and refined and processed foods) to help manage their arthritis pain.
Sarah Jane Parker
Certified Personal Trainer
We want to hear from you. What type of exercises/programs do you use with your clients who have arthritis? Please share in the comment section below.
To read more tips on working with clients who have arthritis, check out the original article from the September 2013 IDEA Fitness Journal here.