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Training Clients with Arthritis

According to the CDC, during 2019-2021, 1 in 5 adults in the United States experienced doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Since then, the number has consistently increased! The latest statistics from Health.Gov estimate the number of reported arthritis diagnoses is now 1 in 4, which is not only a leading cause of disability, but also a significant driver of economic costs.

As a certified fitness professional, you have proven you can provide modifications and options to “the average client” based physical assessments, client intake forms, and current fitness level. However, training the arthritic client requires a much greater depth of knowledge than simply adjusting weights, repetitions, or time. If 1 in 4 adults has arthritis, then it is time for fitness professionals acknowledge that this demographic is “the average client!”

Safely and effectively working with arthritic clients means that you must have a deeper understanding of the various forms and symptoms of arthritis. In addition, it is paramount to know how arthritis can affect major joints throughout the body as well as internal organs such as the heart and lungs.

First and foremost, the fitness professional should be familiar with the most common forms of arthritis such as:

  • Osteoarthritis: The MOST common form of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage breaks down around the joints due to overuse or a former injury. It is natural for the body to develop osteoarthritis as it ages due to the stresses put on the hip, knee, ankle, or shoulder joints due to a lifetime of activity.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: This is an autoimmune disease diagnosed after blood tests for RA markers as well as other symptoms such as the symmetrical inflammation and pain in joints around the body, inflammatory effects on various internal organs, and a weakened immune system where the body is attacking the joints.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis: An autoimmune disease that can be diagnosed through blood tests and symptoms may be like RA. One distinct symptom of Psoriatic Arthritis is that red or silvery rashes or dry skin patches may appear near the elbows, knees, or scalp.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis: This autoimmune disease can be identified with blood tests and shares similar symptoms with RA. However, this form of arthritis is known to affect the spine, specifically the lower back and hips. If left untreated, inflammation may lead to intense pain while moving, standing, sitting, or even lying down.

In addition, the effects of arthritis are unique to everyone, so understanding some of the symptoms that may need to be addressed before starting any fitness program should include questions about:

  • Joint inflammation
  • Pain level
  • Breathing problems
  • Numbness or tingling in arms, legs, hands, or feet
  • Skin rashes/bruising
  • Digestive problems
  • Overall mood/emotional health

What a fitness professional should also understand is that exercise, movement, and simple lifestyle changes can be extremely beneficial when it comes to managing and reducing the onset of symptoms. Learning more about the relationship between inflammation brought on by excess stress, poor sleep, hydration, nutrition, and even medications, all play a key role in how the body reacts to arthritis. Therefore, one of the best ways to help train your clients with arthritis and stave symptoms is to better educate yourself or specialize as an Arthritis Fitness Specialist! Knowledge is power when it comes to preventing and fighting symptoms of arthritis!

Become an Arthritis Fitness Specialist

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month! For the month of May, you can save 40% on Christine’s Arthritis Fitness Specialist online course for fit pros; just enter coupon code ARTHRITIS during checkout.

By completing this online certificate course, you can offer tailored services as a knowledgeable professional uniquely equipped to understand their condition and adeptly guide them towards safe and effective fitness. Don’t miss this opportunity to elevate your training and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those living with arthritis.

Christine M. Conti, BA, M.Ed, is an international fitness educator and presenter. She currently sits on the MedFit Education Advisory Board and has been nominated to be the 2020 MedFit Network Professional of the Year. She is currently writing the MedFit Network Arthritis Fitness Specialist Course and is the CEO and founder of ContiFit.com and Let’s FACE It Together™ Facial Fitness & Rehabilitation. Christine is also the co-host of Two Fit Crazies & A Microphone Podcast and the co-owner of TFC Podcast Production Co.


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