By Ashley Mumma, PT, DPT
We have known for some time that healthy exercise is good for you. But often times, physical therapists run into people who worry that exercise will damage their joints. Now, thanks to relatively recent research, we know the process through which exercise prevents cartilage breakdown.
Motion is lotion, and loading joints through an appropriate amount of exercise can improve cartilage health and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
Here’s how it works:
- Joints are important organs of the musculoskeletal system. They enable individuals to maintain posture, to position their body relative to their surroundings, to move, and to place objects
- When performing these tasks, joints commonly encounter forces that are several times the body weight. Joints are made up of various structures and tissues, which, from a functional point of view, act together. Joints are made to deal effectively with the mechanical loads encountered over many years of life, ideally without suffering damage.
- Articular cartilage provides the weight-bearing surface of synovial joints. The role of adult articular cartilage is to maintain mechanical competence. Cartilage also provides an almost frictionless gliding surface, so it is capable of transferring loads during motion. In order to be able to meet complex mechanical demands without undergoing wear and tear, articular cartilage displays unique adaptable properties.
This relatively recent research demonstrates that exercise may work to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. The knowledge that exercise protects cartilage is a game-changer!
Hopefully, this research will change the belief that exercise will damage joints and help folks understand that loading their joints throughout moderate doses of exercise can positively influence cartilage health and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
Physical therapy works to strengthen joints that have been weakened by damage and inflammation. Physical therapy exercises can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, as well as improve range of motion, making you more mobile.