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Martial Arts

Martial arts are systems and traditions of combat practiced for a variety of reasons: self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, entertainment, as well as mental, physical and spiritual development. Practicing a martial art can improve your coordination, self-discipline, strength, flexibility, balance and posture; it also can help with weight control and provides opportunity for social interaction. Because some practices involve full-force punching, kicking and joint manipulation, not all disciplines are appropriate for all people with arthritis. Carefully choose the discipline you wish to practice, as well as the studio, gym or dojo you choose to join.


Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but you may consider the following.

  • Wear the appropriate protective gear for the discipline.
  • Pull your punches and kicks to reduce the force on joints.


  • Good stretching and flexibility are key in martial arts. Use gentle and gradual stretching to slowly increase joint range of motion and lengthen muscles.
  • Martial arts always emphasize correct form and posture, lessening the strain on your joints.
  • A related activity that is easier on the joints is tai chi.


  • When you start any new physical activity, start slowly and increase your activity level gradually over time.
  • Trying to do too much too fast can lead to pain that may set you back instead of move you forward.

This is general martial arts information. Get personalized results, with specific modifications and tips customized to your problem joints and level of fitness.