Strength training with arthritis

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Okay, so in the last couple of posts, I have spoken about how the situation we are in (COVID-19/lockdown) has had a detrimental effect on the calf muscle I had been working to build up.

Strength training can, at times, be complex. Strength training with arthritis is even more difficult there often needs to be modifications to standard exercises dependant on which joints you have arthritis in.

That should not put you off though, strength training, in my opinion, is pretty much imperative to being able to live comfortably with arthritis. It becomes more important as we age also, aids joint strength, flexibility and bone health.

Since gyms, like many other businesses, have been told to close until further notice it has left a void which as I mentioned has caused my calf muscle to start retreating.

One of the things I have noticed whilst having arthritis is that the stronger your muscles around the affected joint, the more comfortable and pain-free you will be.

That also means that whilst you are pain-free the majority of the time you can then make improvements in terms of flexibility in the joint(s).

So why am I so obsessed with just the calf and not the whole leg?

Well, the truth is I am obsessed with the whole leg, hell I’m obsessed with the entire body being the strongest it can be!

man smash the ground

The reason I talk a lot about the calf is for the first couple of years after my accident there was basically no muscle in it. It was essentially jelly, give it a slap at the end of summer it might not have stopped jiggling until Christmas!

Maybe an exaggeration but you get my point.

It was during these years I was in the most pain, I was taking painkillers, I was unstable when walking, I had pain in adjacent joints and it was then I was suffering from anxiety and agoraphobia.

As you can see strength training has provided me with unbelievable benefits

The regeneration of the calf muscle was such a slow and tedious process as some of you may know it isn’t an easy muscle to develop for a lot of people.

So that being said, the idea of having to go through the whole process again would be a touch soul-destroying. Not only that but unsurprisingly since the muscle has weakened I have experienced more pain, stiffness, swelling and been limping more.

Compared to what I had become accustomed to, this was completely unacceptable.

So what can I do?

Do the work, do the f*****g work

I have always thought that my determination and tenacity are the reason I have been able to live comfortably with this disease and make the improvements I have.

green plant beside white desk

With that in mind, I plunged myself into research, I looked for exercises to do at home, exercises for building calf muscle, workouts without gym equipment and all other things such as that.

I even dug out our old Wii Fit Board and me and my wife spent some days of lockdown playing on that!

During my search, I came across a YouTube channel that has been an absolute LIFESAVER! Or muscle saver at least. I will leave a link to the channel at the end of this post so you can make your way across and take a look for yourself.

There is no cost to it, I am not telling you to buy anything. It’s a YouTube channel so it’s FREE advice, not to sound corny but the only thing I am recommending you invest in it is your time.

Introducing Athlean-X

Athlean-X is a business created by Jeff Cavaliere, his about page on the website will list his credentials.

Highlights of which include working as Head Physical Therapist and Assistant Strength Coach for the New York Mets and he is a certified strength and conditioning specialist.

man tying his shoes

Jeff has endorsements/testimonials from people such as Sylvester Stallone, American wrestler Sting, Greg Jennings NFL player, amongst others.

He has a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy and Bachelor of Science in Physioneurobiology / Premedicine. As you can see he knows his stuff, he isn’t just some half-fit bloke posting a load of videos making ridiculous claims.

As expected for a former Head Physical Therapist he has a fantastic knowledge of the inner workings of all the muscles and joints. It is the scientific information he applies to each demonstrated exercise that makes his videos so compelling.

Here is a video showing the exercises I have been able to do today at home for those all-important calves of mine.

The beauty of Jeff’s exercises is that they don’t really require any equipment besides things you can find in your own home. He also provides modifications for you depending on what level you are at.

The videos are a good watch, you get the benefit of Jeff’s many years of experience and training as well as some light relief provided by Jesse his training partner/crash test dummy.

Obviously he covers more areas than calves, in fact, he covers every area so you should be able to find some exercises that you can use to help you build up that strength and keep pain at bay.

He even does videos about posture like the one below.

If you start to think you want to perform the exercises remember to approach with caution as with any workout. Start light and work your way up and more importantly listen to what he says and perform the exercise exactly as he describes.

I say this because he often goes into detail about things like hand placement or what position joints should be in to isolate certain muscles you are attempting to work.

Final thoughts

I have found it incredibly useful having these videos to follow, it can be hard when you’ve been doing so well and then something comes out the blue and halts your progress even putting you into reverse.

This time that we are having to spend at home means we have to get creative in order to keep moving forward and progressing with our fight against chronic pain.

The link below will take you to the Athlean-X YouTube homepage click the subscribe button, again it’s free and you will never miss a video I think new ones get uploaded on a Sunday.

Athlean-X YouTube Page


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8 thoughts on “Strength training with arthritis

  1. I am a huge believer in strength training. I used to weight lift 5-6 days a week for decades. I got big, very big. I was 5’7″ and at my max weight I was 230lbs. I had a 52″ chest, 19-1/2″ arms, 34″ waist and 20″ calves. I was most proud of my chest and calves though. I used to turn sideways to get in some doors. My shoulders were 66″ I was athletic and earned two college degrees. So I had smarts. But I was too huge for my joints. Especially my ankles. As a result I developed arthritis in my ankles. Some days it was so painful I couldn’t get out of bed. I knew what the issue was but I went to a doctor and he confirmed it. I was too big for my joints. Today, I weigh considerably less and no longer have pain in my ankles. The only pains I have now are in my ass. But they will go off to college soon…LOL. Thanks for writing such an insightful article. It brought me good memories and bad. But I got through it all okay.

    1. Hey Courtney thanks for sharing your experiences as well as some very impressive size measurements 👍🏻
      I understand your point about overloading joints with mass, I’m only an inch taller than you but not pushing the same measurements. That’s why Athlean-X appealed to me, watching a man who doesn’t look abnormally huge but what he has on his body is almost pure muscle.

      I am glad you enjoyed reading the article, why not take a look at the post below and thank you for commenting, much appreciated 💚

      HIIT me baby one more time!

  2. Interesting post. Living in NY almost all of my life and a HUGE Met fan since the ’73 season, I was intrigued by your post including Jeff Cavaliere. I sat thru several of his video’s… particularly the push up video, because I’m trying to train myself to complete 100 push consecutive reps…I’m currently at 50 and I can’t imagine doing double what I can do now…I may need to alter this goal… thanks for posting


    1. Hey Bob glad to hear you appreciated the post.

      Yeah I know the video you mean I have gone through it and they are tough but when you follow his advice you can really feel the tension in the target areas.

      Have a look at the article below for inspiration and keep pushing you will get there! We are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for 💚

      Help mastering mindset!

  3. Hi,

    Although I don’t have arthritis, i do have sore joints most days. Comes with age, I believe. I know I have to exercise regularly. As usual, my reason is I have no time. As a full time working mom, there is always something to do at home, even on weekends.

    And now that I’m working at home and always sitting in front of my laptop, the more that I have back pains at the end of the day.

    Oh well, I try to walk in our treadmill at least 2-3 x a week, and it really helps.

    My cousin-in -law has arthritis and when he has attacks, it takes him weeks to recover. My husband has been telling him to exercise regularly and he just keeps on working when he’s well. I will forward your website to my cousin, his wife, so she can inspire her husband to learn from you and start exercising so his arthritis will abate.



    1. Hi Marita you are very kind and I hope it helps your cousin.

      Yeah I have the benefit of not having any kids to keep entertained, I can imagine how time-consuming it can be. Truth be told even if you set 10 minutes aside a day to follow an exercise video, it’s not much time out your day and 10% of something is better than 100% of nothing right?

      Have a look at the link below for our highly rated anti-inflammatory cream it may help with the back pain.

      Super anti-inflammatory natural cream.

      The treadmill is great, stick with it and throwing in some compound exercise and strength training will help protect those achy joints 👍🏻💚

  4. Wow i also saw the video on how to get a good bod posture. i am going to put it in effort to ensure that it works out for me. this is and insightful post and we can actually do this well, since there is restriction of movement due to corona virus. thank you very much for this article.

    1. No problem Smoochi.

      It is so important to keep moving and stay active, as you say there are restrictions at the minute and gyms are closed so we need to take responsibility for our health. Feel free to take a look at the article below it talks about the importance of exercise and its role in beating pain.

      Use exercise to beat arthritis pain

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, keep fighting 💪🏻💚

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