Arthritis, Exercise and Orthotics

Footech President

Jacques Martin, D.S.S., B.Sc., C.Ped.
President, Footech Inc., Certified Pedorthist

While it might seem counter-intuitive, one way to obtain relief for the pain and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis is exercise. Moderate physical activity increases flexibility while strengthening muscles and bones. It is important to consult your physician before embarking on a new exercise or walking program. A physical therapist may help you to devise ro modify an exercise program so that joints are damaged. While exercise is important, it can be difficult for individuals with arthritic feet and lower leg arthritis to engage in physical activity without pain. Foot orthotics can help to relieve pain by realigning biomechanical imbalances in the feet, reducing pressure on painful areas and improving the overall mechanics of the foot and lower extremities.
Common symptoms of osteoarthritist and rheumatoid arthritis includ stiffness, swelling and pain in joints of the foot. Many sufferers will notice difficulty or pain in the ankles when walking up inclines or stairs. Pain is common beneath the fibula on the outside of the foot. The alignment of the foot often shifts as disease progresses, and flatfoot deformities may occur. Pain or discomfort can occur along the posterior tibial tendon on the inside of the ankle due to the fact that the ligaments that support the foot may become weakened, and the arch may also collapse. Large, bony prominences on the arch of the foot may appear. Other problems associated with arthritis include bunions, claw toes and pain in the ball of the foot. Joints become progressively more stiff as the disease progresses.


Custom orthotics are highly effective in minimizing pressure from prominent bones of the foot. While the orthotic will not correct the shape of the foot, pressure is minimized and pain can be significantly reduced. Other treatments include rest, icing, and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

Exercise to Protect Joints

Flexibity and stretching exercises will help to protect joints by reducing the risk of joint injury and help you to warm up for more strenuous exercise or even just your regular daily activities. Resistance exercises can be used to build stronger muscles in order to reduce stress on joints. Stronger muscles are better equipped to absorb shock. Particularly suited for individuals with arthritis, isometric exercises work by tightening the muscles without joint movement. Isotonic exercises strengthen the muscles through joint movements and can help to ensure range-of-motion is maintained. Aerobic exercises like walking, dancing and bicycling train the heart, lungs, blood vessels and muscles to work more efficiently. Aerobic exercise can help to control weight and reduce stress. Try to gradually incorporate aerobic activity in order to prevent overuse injuries such as stress fractures.

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