Exercising with haemophilia
People with haemophilia may benefit from exercises that strengthen the muscles and increase protection from joint bleeds and injury. Here’s how to get started.1
Living with haemophilia comes with its own challenges, but many people with haemophilia are perfectly able to lead active and fulfilling lives. And though you may not be able to participate in some activities, there are many other exciting activities and exercise that could give you lots of health benefits – from maintaining a healthy weight to increasing the muscle strength around your joints, that can protect you from injury, bleeds and joint damage.1,2
The cycle of joint deterioration
The joints in your body are supported by different types of muscles. When muscles are weak, the risk of joint bleeds increases. And once a joint has bled, it can be more likely to bleed again. This can then lead to a cycle of chronic swelling and pain.2,3,4
Benefits of exercise in haemophilia
For people with haemophilia, exercise might benefit joint health and more such as:2,3
- Improving joint stability
- Reducing the frequency and severity of joint bleeds
- Increasing muscle strength
- Improving coordination
- Increasing flexibility
- Improving general fitness and stamina
- Helping maintain your ideal weight
- Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers
- Supporting good mental health
Ready to get started?
Before you begin, consider discussing the following with your haemophilia team or physiotherapist:
- The type of activities that would be beneficial and safe for you to participate in
- Any protective equipment needed
- Appropriate personal care considerations for both low and high-risk activities.
Get the most out of your exercise routine
Now the fun part, you get to choose activities you think will satisfy your goals.
But what are your goals? Here are some questions to ask yourself and to discuss with your haemophilia team or physiotherapist, when contemplating which exercises would suit you best.
- What are my motivations? Fitness? Socializing? Both?
- Do I know people who would want to exercise together?
- What physical activities interest me?
- What is my current physical ability?
- How often can I commit to an exercise programme?
- What is something I do now that I’d like to keep doing?
- What is something that I’d like to start doing?
Note: Based on an evaluation of your physical condition, the specialists in your haemophilia team can advise you on an exercise routine fit for your needs and goals.3
Let’s do this!
1) Pre and post workout
- Warming up shouldn’t be deep stretches which can cause muscle strains but more gentle or mild exercises to prepare your muscles for physical activity1
- Cooling down means adding gentle stretches after your workout1
- Check with your physiotherapist on which warm-up and cool-down exercises are best1
2) After any injury
Your haemophilia team and physiotherapist will evaluate the severity of the injury and guide you through any rehabilitation needed. Generally, joint sprains, bleeds and muscle strains require an appropriate rest period to allow for healing. All activities can be reintroduced gradually following a joint bleed.4
3) Rely on your support team
Regular follow-up appointments with your haemophilia team will provide them with the most up-to-date assessment of your overall health and the state of your joints, as joint deterioration can go undetected from the untrained eye. These updates will allow for any adjustments to be made in your exercise routines.
Before engaging in physical activities or sports, consult with your doctor about your possibilities within haemophilia.
References: 1. National Hemophilia Foundation: Playing It Safe. Available at: https://www.hemophilia.org (accessed September 2020). 2. Guidelines for the Management of Haemophilia (v1.0). 3. World Federation of Hemophilia. Introduction to Hemophilia (v1.0) – sports (p.2) 4. Canadian Hemophilia Society. Can a person with hemophilia play sports? (v1.0). )
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