People with gout think they cannot exercise nor live a healthy and active lifestyle anymore because of the pain when there’s a gout flare-up. When a person suffers from a gout flare-up, even the pressure of a bedsheet can feel extremely painful. This is why they feel that it’s impossible for them to walk, run, hike, or do any extreme movement that’s necessary for their fitness journey.
But experts agree that this is a common misconception among people with gout. Walking and exercising, albeit minimally, are important in people with gout. To keep gout from debilitating you, make sure to do exercises that will improve your joints. Don’t let gout affect your healthy and active lifestyle.
Why Gout Happens
Gout flare-ups happen when urate crystals form and accumulate in your joint. This causes intense inflammation and pain. Often, the crystals collect in your joints in the big toe. They’re found at the middle of the joint, where the toe connects to your foot. The crystals can also form in the midfoot joint and ankle that usually causes swelling, intense and sharp pain, and redness. It also often feels warm to the touch.
Imagining these symptoms makes you want to settle in bed and never walk again, right? The truth is that not walking or exercising at all can weaken your muscles and joints further. Although you have to lessen the weight that your joints carry when you have a gout flare-up, that doesn’t mean you are not allowed to walk or do minimal movements that will not bring you pain.
How to Deal With a Gout Flare-up
What medications have you been taking for gout? Usually, people will only medicate when there is already a flare-up. Few people understand the importance of taking supplements that lower uric acid to address gout flare-ups. As you know, urate crystals form because there’s a high level of uric acid in your body. Where does uric acid come from?
Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down purines, which naturally occur in your body. But people with high levels of uric acid are also those who love eating red meat, organ meats, anchovies, mussels, scallops, sardines, tuna, beer, and sweetened drinks. People who consume canned goods and preserved food regularly will likely have high uric acid levels, too.
Usually, your body can dissolve uric acid so it can pass through your kidneys and into your urine. However, when your body produces too much uric acid, it can build up and cause a flare-up. That’s what’s causing the pain, swelling, and inflammation.
What to Do When You Have Gout Flare-up
The first thing you have to do is unload pressure from your joints. If you are going to walk, use a walking cane or other aid. That will unload your weight from the joints. This will reduce the inflammation on your joint, thus allowing you to do regular and daily activities. You can also use ice and cold to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain. But because the joints are sensitive, make sure you can take in the degree of cold and pressure you will apply on it.
Taking medications, of course, is a natural solution when you have a gout flare-up. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common type of medication for those with gout. Physical therapies are also known to reduce the risk of a gout flare-up, so make sure this is included in your program.
Why Walking and Exercising Are Important for Those with Gout
Exercising will help you lose weight and manage that weight. When you are overweight, your joints and muscles tend to feel the pressure of “carrying” you. That’s why gout is prevalent among people who are a bit overweight. Diet programs such as the DASH diet, which was designed to control one’s blood pressure, can reduce high levels of uric acid. Consider this type of diet when you want to manage your weight. However, make sure not to lose weight rapidly because that can increase uric acid, too.
Another reason losing weight is important is to reduce body fat. Researchers found that body fat carries more uric acid than muscles. This means that cardiovascular exercises that lose body will help your body shed off uric acid.
Don’t let gout ruin your healthy and active lifestyle. While you may only be able to do limited movements when you have a flare-up, make sure to engage in more of them when you’re fine. Exercising keeps you healthy, and that’s what you need when you have problems with your uric acid.