The joints of knees, hips, and hands (especially fingers) are common sites where osteoarthritis (OA), a generative joint disease and the most common form of arthritis, to occur. It has been confirmed that exercise can be so essential part of treatment plan if you have osteoarthritis. Since OA affects the joint, not all kinds of exercise are good for you. How about elliptical machine – is it good for you?
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage (particularly articular cartilage, a tough and flexible tissue) in the joint degenerates or wear away, causing the ends of bones in the joints at greater chance of getting more friction every time when they glide against each other. Over time, this causes symptoms such as joint pain, stiffness, or even swelling – see more the symptoms of osteoarthritis!
Typically, the damaged cartilage is triggered by the age. Yap, the cartilage tends to degenerate and wear away as you age. This is the major reason why OA is much more common in people at the ages of older than 40s.
However, the age is not the only one of the answer. In fact, this joint disease doesn’t affect all elderly people. This suggests that other possible factors may have an effect in increasing the risk! These may include obesity, a family history of arthritis (especially for OA of the fingers), or having abnormality cartilage /bone at birth.
Now you know that the cartilage in the joint can play a key role to keep your joint flexible. But it doesn’t work alone. There are also muscles around the cartilage.
These muscles are also involved in absorbing the strain every time you use or move the joint. In other words, they can help reduce the strain that hits your joints such as knee, hips, or discs of the spines – so thus your cartilage will work easier.
The strong muscles in the cartilage and joint are also great for other benefits. They can help:
- Reduce the risk of injury.
- Keep the ends of bones in the joint in the right position every time you move them.
- And provide a stable posture.
Decreased strength of these muscles can be bad for the cartilage. When they don’t work optimally, the cartilage will work harder in supporting the movement of the joint. As a result, it is easier to wear away over time.
Weight control is another benefit from exercise. If you keep active, you are relatively easier to lose weight or just to keep your weight ideal.
And as mentioned before, overweight /obesity can be bad for the prognosis of osteoarthritis. Excessive pounds of weight you have can put more pressure in the joints, particularly your knee joints. Even weight control is always included in the treatment plan for all kinds of arthritis.
The human body is naturally designed to always get plenty of physical activity every day. If you don’t follow this natural rule, you are at high risk of some health conditions either in short or long term.
Although the affected knee can limit the movement, but this doesn’t mean you can ignore the exercise. There are several exercises for arthritis to choose from.
In general, your exercise should include 3 major categories; rang-of-motion, strengthening, and fitness exercises. And a good elliptical machine may accommodate all of these categories.
How does the machine work?
It is build up with large sturdy frames to keep stable when you use it. In some units, there is a limit of weight that can be accommodated by the unit.
It is surrounded by two large rails. There is also a pair of foot plates – you can put both of your feet on there to workout with the machine. Then just pushes back or forward with your legs. The pattern of movement is based on the natural biomechanical walking or running.
The unit can be equipped with adjustable features. These include adjustable various heights and resistance setting (the unit can provide a different range of intensities from light to high intensity).
How it is considered good for osteoarthritis of the knee?
In people with osteoarthritis, low-impact exercises are more recommended. Basically, an elliptical /cross trainer is designed as a stationary exercise to stimulate walking or even running without causing high impact on the joint and reducing the injury.
The low impact, easy for the knee joint is the major reason why it is considered better than conventional treadmill, especially if you have arthritis on the knee.
Other benefits include:
- Easy to use, even for a beginner.
- It can provide both lower and upper body exercise.
- You can reverse the movement by pushing back with your legs.
- It can be one of excellent choices to help burn your calories effectively, controlling your weight!
- Great for your heart! The heart can be stimulated to be constantly active during exercise. It can be a good choice for cardio in people who are recovering from physical therapy or injury.
First, it is so important that to ensure that your body (especially the affected joint) is ready for exercise. For this reason, it’s good idea to consult first with your doctor before you begin the exercise program.
Depending on the severity, not all sufferers with knee osteoarthritis are able to use an elliptical or cross trainer. Some with serious disability may become very poor in independence and stability.
But if you are able to use this unit, choose the low resistance setting to avoid high impact on your knee joints. If necessary, use also accessories that can help provide maximum shock attenuation such as shoes and insoles.
Remember that the use of cross trainer is one of options. There are other kinds of exercises you can choose to keep active even though you have arthritis in your knees.
Trying different exercises are also helpful to avoid boring while exercising. Another best choice is water exercises such as swimming. But not all kinds of exercise is good, see also bad exercises for osteoarthritis!
Regular exercise is the core for osteoarthritis treatment. But it is not the only one. See also other lifestyle approaches and home remedies in here!