Most of my patients are young, at least in spirit, and enjoy moving and playing with their friends and family, and feel fulfilled doing sports.
In fact, my mission is to get them back to it after recovering from injuries or alleviating ailments that prevent them from doing so.
Among the most frequent questions I am asked are: What physical activities should we practice if we want to be healthy and live longer and better? Which ones are not recommended? Is it possible to prevent osteoarthritis with exercises? And if we have undergone surgery, can we return to our favorite sport?
Osteoarthritis is the deterioration of the joints, which become stiff and painful with injuries and with the passage of time, as the cartilage, which is the soft and elastic layer that covers the bones in the joints and allows a smooth friction between the bones and cushions the transmission of loads, is damaged.
Cartilage has a very limited healing capacity, so if damaged it is difficult to recover; on the other hand, joint mobility without impact improves nutrition and lubrication of the cartilage.
In addition, exercise increases joint mobility, preventing stiffness.
What exercises can I do to prevent osteoarthritis?
Exercises that work the joints and do not involve excessive impact are beneficial. For example: brisk walking, yoga, swimming and cycling.
These exercises are preferable to those that involve loads on the joints with impact, such as running, especially if done without proper technique, since the loads on the joint can damage the cartilage if they are excessive and exceed the cushioning capacity of the joint tissues.
In any case, from a cardiovascular point of view, a sedentary lifestyle should be avoided, since most of today’s diseases (diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc.) are much more dangerous than any injuries that may occur as a result of sports practice.
Any sporting activity will bring greater benefits than sitting without doing anything for fear of injury.
As for isometric-eccentric exercises with weight loads, such as exercises with weights or with one’s own body weight, they are the ones that increase muscle mass and bone density the most and prevent osteoporosis, reducing the risk of fractures.
On the other hand, patients who have undergone joint surgery need to know whether they will be able to perform their preferred activity after surgery.
In the case of having undergone arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscus, cartilage, ligaments or capsule, or in tendon repair surgery after adequate recovery with the help of physiotherapy the patient should be able to perform the sporting activity previously practiced, with some exceptions.
In the case of having undergone prosthesis surgery, the situation is different, since prostheses deteriorate with impacts.
Therefore, regarding physical activity after a prosthesis operation, the patient should take into account the following:
- Non-impact activities are beneficial but impact exercises (playing soccer, basketball, contact sports or running) should be avoided as far as possible.
- Recommended exercises: swimming, cycling, walking, dancing or golf. Even some activities that require moderate impact, such as playing paddle tennis, may be allowed (playing tennis, on the other hand, would place an excessive load on the prosthesis).
- We must keep in mind the level of mastery of the activity in question.
Many medium-impact activities such as skiing, for example, are permitted and even recommended after prosthesis surgery if the patient had previously done it, but it is not recommended for patients with no previous experience.
The future is promising. Advances in surgical techniques and implants are making it possible to expand the activities permitted to patients, since we are currently managing to apply biological regenerative treatments with infiltrations and minimally invasive surgery in such a way as to avoid or delay the need to implant a prosthesis.
In addition, prostheses are manufactured with better biomaterials and adapted to each patient, more resistant and durable, which will allow a greater number of activities and more intense activities.