I know what you are thinking. Arthritis is about the joints. So, what's the big deal about strong muscles? Let's delve into that.
Strong Muscles - A Little Background
There are more than 640 muscles in your body and three types of muscle:
- skeletal muscles are voluntary muscles that help the body move (e.g. raise your arm)
- smooth muscles are involuntary and are found inside internal organs
- cardiac muscle is also involuntary and only found in the heart
As you age, or due to illness, muscles tend to get weaker. With less exercise, muscle cells also get thin and weak.
Consequences of Weakened Muscles
There are consequences of decreased muscle mass which typically occur after age 50 and with less exercise. You may:
- not be as strong overall
- be slower in your movements
- be more uncoordinated
- have less stamina
- be more stiff and sore following exercise
- use improper body mechanics and develop poor posture
- have joint instability and an increased risk of falling
Weakened muscle contributes to fatigue, a feeling of weakness, joint problems, and activity intolerance.
Muscle Strength and Osteoarthritis
Simply put, muscle has an essential role in the structure and function of joints. Weak muscles are a risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. If you already have osteoarthritis, strengthening your muscles can improve joint function and reduce your risk of disability.
Use Your Muscles. University of Iowa Health Sciences. November 2004.