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Can Pilates help with Arthritis pain?

Arthritis is a condition that we’ve all heard of but perhaps don’t know much about. If you’re starting to feel a little stiffness and pain in your joints or have a family history of arthritis, let’s get forewarned and forearmed with knowledge and solutions.

Arthritis is a term that describes pain, swelling and stiffness in joints. Around 10 million people suffer with arthritis in the UK and there are many different forms that can affect all ages. There isn’t a cure for arthritis but treatment and lifestyle changes can slow the progress and ease symptoms.

Osteoarthritis - This is the most common type of arthritis and is caused by the wear and tear on joints as we get older, sustain an injury or are overweight. It’s mostly felt in joints we use a lot like the hips, knees, feet and hands. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage between the bones breaks down so there is less of a cushion and the bones can rub together, causing pain when you move. Extra bumps of bone may grow around the joint which you can see as knobbly bits on fingers or feet.

With osteoarthritis, people can feel a deep ache in their joints and may have trouble gripping things, bending or climbing stairs. Stiffness in the morning and after resting or when walking is also common.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - This is another common type of arthritis, it’s an auto-immune condition where the immune system starts to attack healthy tissue in the body. Rheumatoid Arthritis causes inflammation in the synovium fluid around your joints which can become red, hot, swollen and painful.

RA can affect any joint but is often felt in the small joints like hands and feet first, with joints on both sides of the body tending to be affected at the same time. It can affect all ages and gets worse quickly so it’s important to get treated promptly.

How does exercise help with arthritis? When your joints are painful, it’s easy to avoid exercise, but being active does reduce pain and symptoms, as well as improving muscle strength to support joints, reducing stiffness, helping balance, improving energy levels, managing weight and boosting mood – so it’s vital to keep moving.

Can Pilates help? Yes, in fact some doctors prescribe Pilates as a treatment for arthritis. Pilates helps to increase flexibility and muscle strength in the joints to reduce pain and stiffness.

Pilates is perfect as it’s gentle so it doesn’t put too much stress on your joints, it also improves circulation to deliver nutrients to the muscles and tendons, and posture which can help to relieve soreness. The breathing techniques that we use in Pilates really help to relieve stress and tension while totally focussing on something other than your pain.

This week I filmed a Pilates for Arthritis class which concentrates on mobilising joints that are commonly affected by arthritis, plus strengthening the muscles around them. I also gives you top tips for exercising with arthritis and shows you how to adapt Pilates exercises for arthritic joints. This video is available on the website to do as many times as you like, whenever and whereever you like for £5.

To find out about our wide range of online and face-to-face Pilates classes, from Gentle to Fitness, visit

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