Signing up for martial arts classes probably isn’t the first thought that crosses your mind when you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, but research indicates it might be quite beneficial in loosening your joints and helping with pain.
Arthritis is the chronic inflammation of the joints. It typically starts with one joint, but once a person has been diagnosed with it, there’s a good chance other joints will eventually be affected. Some of the common causes of arthritis include:
- Wear and tear due to overusing joints
- Accidents or sports injuries
- Muscle weakness
- Family history
How Martial Arts Help With Arthritis
Learning martial art provides various physical and mental benefits. Training improves your flexibility, mobility, balance, muscle strength, posture, stability, stamina, and muscle endurance. A 2010 study showed that patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed improvements after taking Tai Chi classes.
Going excessively hard during practice regardless of what style you choose to train will put lots of pressure on your joints. This might aggravate them, worsening your arthritis. You should also be careful of your body positioning while training. The techniques used in most martial arts require you to make precise movements. Performing them the wrong way often puts more stress on your joints. The goal of anyone who has arthritis and trains in martial arts should be to loosen their joints with movements, not place more stress on them. Remember this goal as you train to avoid getting distracted and train like you’re preparing for a tournament.
Tips On Getting Started On Martial Arts With Arthritis
Let us take a look at some of the things people looking to martial arts to help with arthritis should do:
1) Take It Easy
Anyone with arthritis who trains should always remember to take it easy. Taking it easy doesn’t mean you should train regularly, it means listening to your body and crafting a routine that suits you.
Taking it easy also includes doing the right things before training, like warming up properly before classes and cooling down with stretches afterward. You might also have to take some unscheduled breaks from your training if you notice your arthritis worsening.
It will take a few weeks for your body and joints to get used to training, but warming up and cooling down correctly will help you ease into the routine. Don’t force any training sessions if your body feels beat up, instead take a break until you’re fully recovered.
2) Only Train With Qualified Experts
Finding a qualified instructor to train with is always a good idea, and it becomes more important when it comes to training with arthritis. Only train with instructors who understand the limitations your arthritis places on you and are willing to work around them to develop a training routine that’s optimal for you. Avoid gyms with instructors who aren’t to work with your limitations.
While martial arts training has been proven to help with arthritis, you only get to enjoy those benefits when you train the right way. The ideal instructor should already have experience working with people with arthritis or other limitations.
3) Don’t Ignore Your Doctor’s Recommendations
Martial arts training helps with arthritis, but so do many of the treatments recommended by doctors. This means your martial arts training shouldn’t be the sole thing you do to treat your condition. Martial arts training is most effective for people with arthritis when it’s combined with a medical treatment plan.
Best Martial Arts for People with Arthritis
Some of the martial arts you should explore if you have arthritis include:
Brazilian Jitsu is a derivative of traditional Jiu-Jitsu, and it focuses on ground fighting. Many of the techniques used in the sport require you to use the full motion of your joints, helping to loosen stiff joints.
Aspects of BJJ training like performing drills or flowing with a training partner help to improve your flexibility and mobility, something people with arthritis often struggle with.
This martial art prioritizes embracing the spirit, body, and mind. Developed in ancient China, it is one of the best martial arts for improving your physical and mental health. It’s easy to learn and leads to many health benefits including reducing symptoms of arthritis.
Think of Tai Chi as a form of moving meditation via gentle movements that create harmony between the body and mind. The ultimate goal of Tai Chi is to cultivate your Qi (inner life energy) to flow fluidly throughout your body. It’s as much of a spiritual experience as it is physical.
The slow, circular, and graceful movements used in Tai Chi make it perfect for people of all ages and that includes people with physical limitations. The movements consist of exercises that balance opposing forces, making them easy to learn. Other benefits of Tai Chi include improved cardiovascular health and balance.
Train With Qualified Instructors
Training martial arts with a condition such as arthritis can be daunting and demoralizing, but nevertheless don’t let it stop you from training martial arts. Even the great Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of the Kyokushin Karate has osteoarthritis, but that didn’t stop him from training! In fact, these days many studies have revealed the benefits of training in martial arts and how proper training can help reduce the effects of arthritis.
So, thinking about giving Martial Arts a try? Why not try it with us here at Evolve? Evolve has some of the most decorated instructors in Singapore. Feel free to attend one of our complimentary introductory classes to find out first-hand which Martial Arts is right for you!
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