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Walk away arthritis pain

An elderly man and woman walking together.

Jan. 21, 2020—Do you struggle with arthritis pain? It turns out something as simple as walking can help ease your discomfort.

That's because walking as exercise helps you build muscle and shed excess weight, which takes pressure off your sore, stiff joints. Walking also helps minimize your arthritis pain by:

  • Bringing oxygen to your joints and removing inflammatory waste products.
  • Boosting your balance, strength and overall health.

Start a safe walking routine

If it has been a while since you've exercised, you'll want to take a few precautions to protect your joints as you walk. Here are seven safety tips from the Arthritis Foundation and American Physical Therapy Association.

1. Talk before you walk. Get a thumbs up from your doctor or physical therapist if you're starting a new walking program.

2. Don't tackle too much too soon. Your ultimate goal is a 30- to 60-minute walk on most days. But start slowly if you're a newbie. Then gradually increase your activity level—otherwise you might be sidelined with an injury.

Beginning with three 5-minute walks a day can still help you become more limber and soothe your joints.

3. Watch your form. Don't slouch—keep your head high, back straight and gaze forward. Also:

  • Stand up tall and gently tighten your stomach muscles, as though you were drawing your belly button inward.
  • As you step, roll your foot forward from heel to toe.
  • Land softly with each stride.

4. Choose the right shoes. Investing in good walking shoes can help absorb the impact of your steps and protect your ankles, knees and hips. Look for cushioned soles and arch support. For the best fit, you may want to consider a specialty running or walking store. Shop later in the day—or after a walk—when your feet are the largest.

5. Consider walking aids. A walking stick or hiking poles may ease stress on your joints and improve your balance. And be sure to wear any shoe inserts or back- knee- or ankle- braces your provider has prescribed.

6. Be fussy about surfaces. Soft, level ones are kinder on your joints than hard, hilly ones.

7. Listen to your body. Joint pain is a warning sign to modify your activity—and decrease the distance, time or intensity of your walks. If your joint pain persists, tell your provider.

Get more exercise tips

Exercise and arthritis can go together. Check out this list of arthritis-friendly exercises to keep your joints feeling pain-free.

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