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Exercise builds strong bones, increases flexibility and helps protect you from muscle loss. For all its benefits, though, starting a new exercise regimen when you aren't prepared for it can put undue stress on your weight-bearing joints, especially if you cope with osteoarthritis or have recently had an orthopedic procedure such as knee surgery or hip replacement. Local Boise, Idaho, orthopedic surgeons have some advice for people who want to step up their activity level safely.


Sports medicine specialists who work with professional athletes monitor their patients' joint health regularly, says Caldwell, Idaho, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Charles Schneider. "Team doctors are on the sidelines so they can assess an injured player immediately," he says, "but the average fitness enthusiast needs to be proactive." Your nearest Meridian, Idaho, orthopedic doctor may not be as close as the locker room, so Dr. Schneider suggests building up to regular activity. "If you spend a lot of time on the couch, work your way slowly to greater intensity."


Dr. Michael Shevlin agrees and adds, "Patients who move too quickly into running or other high-impact workouts may pay the price later. You may want to go faster, but being sidelined for fracture care isn't going to get you to your fitness goals." He advises would-be weekend warriors to pay attention to the feedback they get from their ankles, hips and knees. "Soreness serves a purpose: It's your body's way of telling you to take it easy after a hard workout," he says. "Heed those signs today, and you could prevent more pain or even joint replacement surgery in the future."


Orthopedic specialist Dr. George Nicola has specific advice for people with osteoarthritis. "Exercise is vital to your overall health, but when joint pain limits your mobility, it can derail your workout efforts before they begin." More than 50 million Americans have or will have some form of arthritis, he notes, but many of them can halt the progressive joint disorder before it takes a greater toll on mobility. "Options for arthritis include everything from physical therapy and hydrotherapy to knee resurfacing and knee replacement."


A specialist in quad-sparing knee surgery techniques that reduce recovery time, Dr. Nicola advises people with arthritis to be informed of all their treatment options. "Not every therapy is right for every patient. Hyaluronic acid injections, for example, can give some people relief, but if there's significant cartilage loss, injections may not be the answer."


"Pain shouldn't keep you from doing what you love," he adds. "Exercise is important for everyone, but it's crucial for patients with arthritis. If you're feeling pain during or after a workout, see a specialist to find out why. Don't work through the pain when physical therapy or minimally invasive surgery could relieve it."


For more information about sports medicine specialists please click on WIO link or visit