Exercise often makes arthritis worseA good friend of mine recently decided it was time to lose some weight. Like most of us, the dilemma is then whether to diet, exercise or both. In this case, he decided that he needed to do both. Our local gym was offering a discount on membership and persuaded him that this was the best way to lose weight.

Suitably motivated, he then went for his induction and consultation with a personal trainer. Not bad for around £40 per month… Anyway he reported back that the trainer had devised a customised training plan and would be available to help with questions and check on his progress.

Anyway it all went well for about 6 weeks and I asked my friend how they were getting on. Then came the comment, “It was going really well, but I seem to be getting a pain in my knees.” Anyway he reported this back to the trainer who recommended more exercise on a particular type of machine and a longer warm up and warm down sequence.

A month or so later, the problem was getting worse and the advice came back to “Up the exercise”.

Guess what, the problem got worse.

At this point, he decided to lay off a bit and the pain started to improve. It was really interesting looking at the schedule and the particular machines involved. The problems really seemed to have started with the cross trainer. When he cut this out, the problems diminished rapidly. It’s interesting to observe people on these various machines and watch their alignment. Also with something like the cross trainer all of your weight is being aligned over a particular knee and then alternated to the other. Most of the people on this machine seem to lean to each side as the load gets heavier and actually increase the weight on the knee. Even with the treadmill the weight is more level so it’s distributed better.

You can learn an awful lot by watching other people on these sorts of machines and at the very least see what to avoid.

However, the key point for me is:

  • The trainers view was that you use exercise to progress and more is better.
  • However, they seem to have little concept that joints are not like muscles as they don’t improve with exercise, often the opposite. If anything this was exaggerating underlying problems and causing potential long term damage. I know a number of personal trainers and instructors; and every one of them has knee and back problems. Hum, hard to see the link isn’t it…..
  • Synovial fluid lubricates the joints and this tends to diminish with age making us more prone to joint problems.
  • There are various supplements that can help with joint pains. However, it we accept that this is partly related to getting older, then anti-aging approaches are well worth investigating as they can potentially add years to your life and joints.

I have been investigating this area in a lot of detail over the last 6 months and there are many very promising approaches starting to emerge that will really make a difference as to how we age. Many of these used to be reserved for the wealthiest in society, but this is starting to change rapidly. You can make a difference by taking some inexpensive supplements and then look at more expensive approaches if appropriate.

Watch this space as I have a lot more to say on this subject.

Anyway, if you do use a gym, have a good look at how you and other people use these machines. You can avoid a lot of problems and make training easier.