Arthritis needs Motion

“Mom, do you have arthritis?” My daughter asked. “Well, I am pretty sure I do,” I say, “but…..I don’t feel it because of my movement practice and our lifestyle.

Arthritis is the theme of our conversation today because I was recently shocked when talking with a few new clients (young! in their 40’s) and they expressed surprise at learning that MOTION is an essential component to managing arthritis and it not winning over you. 

For me, learning more about arthritis has been necessary to help others both in our sessions in Spark Motion Body, but also within my family and household.Both my parents have arthritis, different types and my brothers and sisters.Arthritis has been around me for most of my life, or at least the idea of it. As early as I recall, my aunts, uncles, grandparents would exclaim, Ohh! That smarts…and when I looked at them in alarm, they would say, “its just my arthritis”.I saw that arthritis was part of growing up. The unspoken message was enjoy yourself now, because you will undoubtedly become burdened with joint pain, random disease, and a lack of play. Great. No wonder we all have trouble wanting to “grow up”. Physical pain and depression, just what every kid wants.

I saw within my family there was a great deal of interest around health, happiness, vitamins and nutrition. I did not understand why, if people knew what to do to keep themselves feeling great physically and with joy in their lives, why didn’t they just do those things? 

I know, youthful ignorance right? 

This is not meant to be a conversation on why it is hard to change our habits and patterns, but we may need to come back here and revisit the topic as it is a factor in our conversation today. 



So, what is arthritis? And what can you do about it? 



“Once thought to be an affliction caused by biomechanical wear and tear of the joints over time, osteoarthritis, we now know is due in large degree to chronic inflammation. A cascade of overlapping factors causes this- widely diverse as bacterial and viral infections, free radicals and oxidative stress, gene expression, obesity and metabolic syndrome. “ The New Science of Overcoming Arthritis. C. Thomas Vangsness, Jr. , MD. 

If this is a new information to you and you are still following the old model of it being wear and tear over injuries and time,I highly suggest reading the book listed above. It was a helpful resource in filling in a medical perspective and taking a larger viewpoint on this epidemic sized item that presents hurdles to us to live and move pain free. 

For our community we will focus on the positive. There are different types of arthritis. It is important that you work with a medical doctor and osteopath to determine what your type is and what options are for treatment. There are a plethora of interventions available today, from weight management and nutrition, motion programs, to replacing damaged cartilage with new cartilage generated from stem cells. 

A note about the involvement of a healthy body weight. Many American doctors will not prescribe weight loss and exercise as treatment, preferring to lean towards medication and surgery. They simply don’t think of it. You will need to be honest with this part of your arthritis plan. 35% of Americans are clinically obese ( 20 or more percent over their ideal body weight). Two- thirds of our population are overweight. To frame our conversation and understand the importance of dealing with this aspect of your health, in our culture today, obesity is the leading cause of chronic disease across the world. 

This is daunting, but again, we want to share accurate information and focus on getting you the support you may need. 


As the saying goes, you cannot out exercise a diet that does not work for you. Exercise alone without addressing your relationship to food and improving it simply won’t get you the results you need. 


Onto motion. 


For our purposes, we want to help expose different motion needs for an arthritis management (or prevention) workout routine. 


The goal of a workout routine for a client who has osteoarthritis is to maintain motion,preserve strength, and decrease pain.This being said, please consider that you are setting up a lifestyle, not dabbling in an interest. Build gradually, get support from someone you connect to, develop consistency over time, and have fun. You will be on your way. 


These types of motion are important to balance for our clients looking for an arthritis management program.


Isometric exercises – these tighten and strengthen specific muscles around a joint without moving the joint. Feels old school. These are motions that get you into a position and then maintain dynamic support throughout the shape you are in. Small pauses of the rhythm to “hold, fill it in, and then move out of it. Examples of this are:  physical therapy type of exercises where you hold a position for a few seconds and do a certain amount of repetitions. 


Isotonic exercises this involves moving a joint in contractions with a set amount of resistance. Pilates System work on the equipment is a great example, therabands, or Pulley Work in the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®


Isokinetic exercises– these are motions that contract our muscles at specific speeds, vary the planes of motion( up, down, forward, backward, sideways, around) and use varying resistance. Example, our fuller workout in both the Pilates Method of exercise or the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM equipment. Yes!

If you have arthritis, motion is the thing, it is the lifestyle that keeps it in check. The movement actually maintains the healthy use of a joint ,stabilizes it, nourishes it, enables decompression, even aids blood flow through it. 


For exercise to become a lifestyle and not an obligation, it is important that you find something that engages you and offers variety in all the various ways we need to move.Proper body mechanics are also a must for lessening the misuse of our joints and learning how to integrate the body as a whole unit. 

I hope this inspires you to look at arthritis as not an inevitable- less- than- quality life sentence, but as a way to adjust your lifestyle with certain elements to manage it. 

Happy Moving,

Lesley Davenport