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If you have arthritis and are looking for an effective way of exercising which allows you to build strength and improve flexibility while supporting your joints, then Pilates is the answer. Over the years I’ve witnessed so many of my Pilates clients reduce their joint pain and stiffness and greatly improve their quality of life with this unique method of exercise.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints that can also involve swelling and pain. There are more than 100 different types of Arthritis, with Osteoarthritis being the most common type. This can be caused by wear and tear of the joint structure when joints are put under strain due to poor alignment, obesity or an injury for example. The condition often worsens with age and results in pain, stiffness and swelling in varying degrees. The second most common form is Rheumatoid Arthritis which is an autoimmune disease. In this case, the sufferer’s own immune system attacks the joint lining which inflames and damages the joints. It usually attacks the smaller joints such as the hands and feet first, before spreading to larger joints. Other symptoms include fatigue and a general feeling of being unwell. The disease is characterised by ‘flare-ups” when pain and stiffness are most severe and then remission when the symptoms ease.
How Can Pilates Help?
For sufferers of both types of arthritis, Pilates is an ideal form of exercise as there is minimal impact on the joints which in this case, are already inflamed or damaged. Pilates develops the core muscles promoting good posture which improves the alignment of the joints, allowing for more efficient movement. When the joints are well aligned, it becomes easier to gradually increase the mobility of arthritic joints and work on strengthening the muscles around the specifically affected joints such as hands and fingers or the knees for example. Being able to tailor and modify the exercises to individual needs makes the exercises very specific and targeted, reducing pain and stiffness for sufferers.