Staying Active with Arthritis


I was recently diagnosed with the beginnings of arthritis in my right foot. The first metatarsophalangeal joint (in other words, my big toe joint).

It’s one of those deals where, even though it’s not maybe what I would’ve liked to hear, I’m glad to know what’s wrong so I can move forward. I’m being fitted for custom orthotics next week.

One of the interesting tidbits I’ve read about osteoarthritis since my diagnosis? Exercise is suggested to help with symptoms. Yay!

Why Exercise is Good for Arthritis

I asked the podiatrist several questions about running with arthritis, and he encouraged me to get used to the orthotics first — then by all means to get out and try it. Let my feet be my guide as far as distance and intensity. Yay again!

According to this article from, exercise is important for several reasons.

  • It’s helps ease stiffness
  • Keeps us flexible
  • Helps maintain bone strength
  • Gives us more energy
  • Helps us sleep better
  • It helps us control our weight (obesity is a high risk factor for arthritis)

As with staying active in general, we don’t need to be training for a marathon or the Olympics to get these benefits. Moderate regular exercise is enough.

Don’t Aggravate Your Pain

Being aware of what aggravates pain will help too. There are some things I already know aggravate mine:

  • Mounting a horse from the ground. When I mount from the left side of the horse — ouch! It took me a few minutes to recover from the pain the last time I did that. I’ve used a mounting block since so I don’t have to push off my right foot.
  • Pushing my cross-country ski boots into the bindings. Not sure how I’ll deal with that one. I sure don’t want to stop skiing. I’ll need to check into that. Maybe there are newer bindings that don’t take so much pushing…
  • Sand volleyball. After playing for 45 minutes one Sunday afternoon last summer, my foot hurt for a good week. I suppose I could just not jump, but that would be hard! Maybe keep my shoes on??
  • Sprinting. Maybe the orthotics will help with that. My husband and I were just asked about playing co-ed softball this summer. I’ll have to see!

Since my arthritis is in my foot, the shoes I wear are key, although I suppose that’s true when it’s in the knees or hips too.

I’m already used to wearing shoes all the time. My chiropractor suggested that to me back in 2008 when I first started seeing him for sciatica, then regular “maintenance” adjustments. No more barefoot in the house. No more cheap shoes with zero arch support.

hiking with arthritis
I’ve stayed active and always wear supportive shoes—arthritis pain has diminished!

February 2020 Update

I’ve been wearing some kind of arch support in my shoes ever since first writing this. The pain in my foot has been almost non-existent for several years now—yay!

I can mount a horse again…push my ski boots into the bindings…haven’t tried sand volleyball in a few years.

So, a combination of staying active and wearing good support has helped. Excellent.

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