Keeping Pace with Knee Pain: Making Sense of Exercise Intensity for Osteoarthritis

June 7, 2024

Navigating knee osteoarthritis can often feel like adelicate dance—balancing activity with comfort, momentum with caution. In arecent study spearheaded by Stephen P. Messier, PhD, researchers took a closerlook at how different exercise intensities impact those dealing with thiscommon ailment. Their findings, published in JAMA in 2021, bring somesurprising insights that could change how we approach working out with kneeosteoarthritis.

Decoding the Research: What's the Best Exercise Intensity?

The Strength Training for Arthritis Trial (START) gatheredover 370 participants, all over the age of 50 and grappling with knee pain dueto osteoarthritis. They were divided into three groups: one did high-intensitystrength workouts, another did lighter exercises, and a third groupparticipated in health education sessions without physical training.

After 18 months of closely monitored exercise, the resultswere in – and they were unexpected. Whether participants engaged in high-octaneworkouts or more gentle exercises, the changes in knee pain and joint healthwere practically the same. Even the education-only group reported similaroutcomes, which suggests that the intensity might not be as crucial as wethought.

Tailored Workouts: A Personal Touch

This isn’t to say that those high-energy gym sessions don’thave their place. For some, especially those who've always been active or mightfeel invigorated by a challenge, high-intensity might still be the way to go.However, for many dealing with knee osteoarthritis, this study brings a sigh ofrelief—gentler workouts can be just as effective for managing pain andsafeguarding joint health.

Here's how you can use these insights:

- Customized Fitness Plans: Think of your exercise routineas a bespoke suit. It should fit your specific needs and goals perfectly.There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so consider starting with less intenseworkouts and see how your body responds.

- Listen to Your Body: Keep a close eye on how your kneesfeel during and after workouts. Any increase in pain or discomfort might be asign to dial down the intensity.

- Combine and Conquer: Exercise is just one piece of thepuzzle. Combine your workouts with other strategies like maintaining a healthyweight, regular physical therapy sessions, and the right medication (asprescribed by your healthcare provider) to manage osteoarthritis effectively.

Flexible Fitness: Embracing a Range of Options

What the START trial ultimately teaches us is the power offlexibility—not just in our joints, but in our approach to managing health.Your exercise plan should evolve with you, adapting to how you feel and whatyour body needs on your journey to managing knee osteoarthritis.

Join Us at Hawke & Co Physiotherapy

At Hawke & Co Physiotherapy, we don’t just follow theone-path-fits-all approach. We’re here to help you navigate your personalhealth journey with tailored advice, supported by the latest research, anddelivered with a compassionate touch. Whether you're ready to test the waterswith gentle exercises or ramp things up, we’ll be with you every step of theway. Give us a call or drop by, and let’s make a plan that keeps you movingcomfortably and confidently.

Hey there 🙌🏽 Got questions? Not sure if we're the right fit? Shoot us an email.
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