Can weight lifting or bodybuilding make my osteoarthritis worse?

JC Pinzon

Exercise works like a medicine and the dosage of activity is different for everyone. If your knee hurts while doing squats or moving any joint against resistance you need to adjust your alignment and modify the exercise. Usually less intensity decreasing either reps or lbs. helps as well. There are many exercises that are easy and keep the blood flowing around the joints where you need it. If you stop an exercise is because your pain has gotten worst. Swimming is a great non-pounding exercise that has helped many sufferers from osteoarthritis that cannot lift weights. My advice is to find any exercises with or without machines that do not increase your pain, just remember that muscles and some joints usually hurt for 48 hrs. after exercise which is normal. Always warm up and stretch before and after your sessions.


Exercise can help relieve the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. Exercise strengthens muscles around the joints, which increases flexibility and takes some of the pressure off them. One study found that strength training slows the progression of osteoarthritis. A physical therapist can help design an exercise program that’s safe for you and teach you how to exercise correctly.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
You can lift weights and do bodybuilding if you have one or more joints with osteoarthritis (OA), but you'll need to be very careful. If any part of your workout causes pain in the affected joints, stop. You may need to stop doing some exercises or do them with lighter weights or fewer repetitions. Staying active and physically fit helps manage OA, but continuing to work out through pain isn't a good idea. You can make your OA worse by injuring the joint.

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Consulting with your doctor for options in medication, and appropriate exercise is critical to insure that you don’t make it worse. There are options for you regarding exercise,
resistance training etc., but they need to be overseen by a physician and your exercise needs to be designed and monitored by a certified and licensed health and fitness professional.

Continue Learning about Living with Osteoarthritis

Living with Osteoarthritis

Living with Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) can make moving painful and difficult. Being overweight or obese puts extra pressure on the joints, so it is important to exercise regularly and eat a healthy, low-fat diet. An occupational therapist can teach ...

you ways to perform daily activities with less stress on your joints.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.