Staying active is an essential component in weight loss and overall health. Not all types of exercise are beneficial for your joints, however. According to a new study, sports like tennis and racquetball could cause knee joints to degenerate faster in overweight people with arthritis.
Racket Sports Can Worsen Arthritis
A research team assessed knee degeneration in 415 obese or overweight patients who participated in the U.S. Osteoarthritis Initiative. The patients kept records of their physical activity, which included cycling, jogging, swimming, elliptical trainer, ball sports and racket sports.
According to MRI results, the patients who preferred the elliptical trainer experienced the least knee degeneration. Patients who participated in racket sports experienced significantly more knee degeneration than patients who preferred running and jogging.
Silvia Schiro, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Parma, Italy, led the research. Schiro said racket sports cause more knee degeneration because they are fast-paced, high shear load exercises that require rapid side-to-side movement.
“A large lateral force imparted at the foot during side-to-side movements may be driving large knee adduction moments, a key feature in medial compartment disease, which imparts high compressive loads on the medial tibia and femoral condyle,” Schiro explained (Eurekalert).
Jogging, running, swimming and elliptical machines use a forward motion, which places less strain on joints. Schiro noted that not all overweight arthritic patients are at risk for further knee injury.
“It is possible that some individuals with sufficient strength and motor control may be able to safely play [racket] sports,” she said. “Our data suggests that as a group, though, overweight and obese individuals who play racket sports are at higher risk for disease progression.”
Safe Knee Exercises for Arthritis
Arthritis is a complex process, which means all patients need an individualized treatment plan. Regular exercise is important, but certain types of physical activity could damage your knees further and lead to a total joint replacement surgery known as total joint arthroplasty.
Talk with your doctor about specific knee exercises to avoid. If you enjoy racket sports, ask your doctor about possible substitutions for tennis and racquetball such as badminton or doubles tennis.
Schedule a Total Joint Arthroplasty Consultation
Knee osteoarthritis affects more than 14 million Americans. If you are experiencing chronic knee or hip pain, call your orthopedist to make an appointment. Your doctor can help you manage your pain and get back to living an active, independent lifestyle.