It is essential that people who suffer from arthritis exercise, as it has many benefits. These benefits include increased strength and flexibility, reduced joint pain and less fatigue. Even though it may seem daunting, exercise is still important.

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to help reduce arthritis symptoms. Even moderate exercise can ease your pain and help you maintain a healthy weight. When arthritis threatens to immobilize you, exercise keeps you moving. Before starting an arthritis exercise program, it is important to understand capability and which type and level of exercise will be most effective.

Why Exercise Is Vital

Exercise can help you improve your health and fitness without hurting your joints. With your current treatment program, exercise can:

  • Strengthen the muscles around your joints
  • Help you maintain bone strength
  • Give you more energy to get through the day
  • Make it easier to get a good night’s sleep
  • Help you control your weight
  • Enhance your quality of life
  • Improve your balance

Even though you might think that exercising will make your joint pain and stiffness worse, that’s not true. If you don’t exercise, your joints will become even more painful and stiff.

Exercising is important to keeping your muscles and the surrounding tissues strong. This is because these supporting muscles are crucial in maintaining support for your bones. If you do not exercise, then the muscles will weaken which will create more stress on your joints.

Check With Your Doctor First

You should speak to your doctor about how to incorporate exercise into your treatment plan. The types of exercises which would be most beneficial to you depend on the type of arthritis you have, as well as which joints are affected. Your doctor or a physical therapist can help you to develop an exercise plan which will give you the most benefit whilst causing the least amount of aggravation to your joint pain.

Exercises for Arthritis

Your doctor or physical therapist can help you by recommending exercises, which might include range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises, aerobic exercises, and other activities.

Range-of-Motion Exercises

Stretching and range-of-motion exercises can help relieve stiffness and improve your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion. These exercises might include raising your arms over your head or rolling your shoulders forward and backward. In most cases, you can do these exercises every day.

Strengthening Exercises

These exercises help you build strong muscles. Weight training is one example of a strengthening exercise that can help you maintain or increase your muscle strength. Take a break between your workouts by resting a day between exercises. If your joints are painful or swollen, take an extra day or two off.

A three-day-a-week strength-training program can help you jump-start your improvement, but two days a week is all you need to maintain your gains.

Aerobic Exercise

Exercises that improve your endurance can have a positive impact on your overall fitness. They can help your heart health, weight control and give you more energy.

You can ease the impact on your joints by doing low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, biking, or using an elliptical machine. Try to get up to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise in per week, which can be split into 10-minute blocks.

To get the most benefit from aerobic exercise, do it most days of the week at a moderate intensity. This means you should be able to talk while you are exercising, but you will be breathing faster than normal.

Other Activities

Even small movements can be helpful. Every day activities such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and walking the dog can all help.

The following are some benefits that you may experience from doing body awareness exercises: improved balance, prevention of falls, improved posture and coordination, and promotion of relaxation.

Tips to Protect Your Joints

If you’re just starting to get active again after a long break, ease your joints into it slowly. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to overworking your muscles and making your joint pain worse.

Consider these tips as you get started:

It is best to do exercises that have low impact in order to avoid putting too much stress on your joints. Stationary or recumbent bicycles, elliptical trainers, or exercises done in water are all good options.

Applying heat before exercise can relax your joints and muscles and relieve any pain you have. Heat treatments, such as warm towels, hot packs, or a shower, should be warm, not painfully hot, and should be applied for about 20 minutes.

Start your workout by moving your joints around gently to warm them up. Spend 5-10 minutes doing range-of-motion exercises before moving on to strength-training or aerobic exercises.

Go slowly and ease into your movements. If you feel pain, take a break. If you experience sharp pain or pain that is stronger than your usual joint pain, this could be an indication that something is wrong. If you notice swelling or redness in your joints, slow down.

Ice should be applied to joints for 20 minutes at a time, as needed, after any activity that results in joint swelling.

If you’re feeling pain while exercising, it’s important to trust your instincts and not push yourself harder than your joints can handle. Start slowly and increase the length and intensity of your workouts as you get stronger.

Don’t Overdo It

If you feel pain after exercising, it may be because you haven’t been active for a while. In general, if the pain lasts for more than 2 hours, you may have been exercising too hard. Consult your doctor to find out what is normal and what may be a sign of a more serious condition.

Some people with rheumatoid arthritis find that their joint flares improve with exercise, but only if the exercise is done during a general or local flare. Range-of-motion exercises help keep your body moving, and exercising in water can cushion your joints.

Exercise Programs for People With Arthritis

Before beginning any new exercise regimen, it is always advisable to check in with your doctor – this is especially true if you suffer from arthritis. That being said, many hospitals, clinics, and health clubs offer special programs designed specifically for those with arthritis.

The Arthritis Foundation provides exercise programs for people with arthritis at various locations throughout the United States. The programs include both water and land based exercise classes, as well as walking groups. For more information, please contact your local branch.

Moves To Help Ease Joint Pain

It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to ease joint pain is to exercise.

If you are experiencing pains in your elbows or lower back and hips, the best way to manage and prevent further pain is to exercise correctly. If you already have pain or joint discomfort, then you should keep your workouts low-impact, but that does not have to mean easy or ineffective.

You can lower your risk of injury and reduce impact by performing exercises that put less stress on your joints.

Some of the most popular low-impact workout options include:

  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Elliptical cardio
  • Incline walking
  • Controlled light-resistance weight training
  • Stretching and yoga

In order to reduce discomfort, you can either keep your workouts low-impact or start doing simple exercises. These exercises include stretches for lower back pain and feel-good hip openers.

The following exercises can help relieve different types of joint pain:

  • Using a chair, towel, light dumbbell, and resistance band, try a variety of moves and stretches.
  • Focus on moves that target the area of discomfort.
  • Include your favorite exercises in your workouts to help ease joint pain.

“Wring the Towel” Wrist Stretch

Grab both ends of a small towel and roll it up.

Extend your arms out in front of you with palms facing down.

Pretend you are wringing water out of the towel by slowly and with control tilting one wrist up and the other wrist down at the same time, then alternate sides.

Wring the towel in both directions for 10 full reps.

Dumbbell Wrist Curl

Sit on a chair or bench, holding a light dumbbell in one hand and resting your elbow on your knee.

To do this exercise, keep your arm still and exhale as you flex your forearm and bend your wrist towards you to curl the dumbbell up.

Breathe in deeply to lower your wrist back to the original position.

Repeat the following 10 times slowly and with control, ensuring that your wrist has a full range of motion. Afterwards, switch to the other side.

Elbow Compression with Small Towel

Roll up a small towel and place it over your elbow.

To do this exercise, start by making a fist with your hand and then curling your arm forward so that your elbow is bent all the way closed. Try to touch your knuckles to your shoulder.

With your opposite hand, apply pressure to the back of your wrist. Breathe deeply and hold for five seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

Complete three reps per side.

Narrow Grip Wall Press Tricep Extension

Put your palms against the wall at chest height.

Move a few feet away from the wall and stand at an angle, with your palms flat against the wall.

To do a wall sit, start by leaning your back against a wall with your feet about a foot away from the wall. Bend your knees and slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure your knees are directly above your ankles and your hips are square to the wall. Hold this position for as long as you can.

Keep your elbows close to your body and press back to straighten your arms, making sure to flex your elbows all the way.

Continue for 10 reps.

You can do this exercise by placing your palms on a bench.

Hip and Low Back Compression Stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.

Bring one knee up to your chest and hold it there with your hands. Keep your hips tightly pressed to the ground.

You should take five deep breaths, and then switch sides and do the same thing on the other side.

Continue alternating sides to complete three reps per side.

Pelvic Tilt

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Bend at the hips and place your hands on your knees.

Arch your lower back by lifting your sitting bones and tilting your pelvis forward, stretching your hamstrings. Keep your neck neutral and your shoulders relaxed. Hold for a few breaths.

To complete this pose, round your lower spine and tuck your pelvis under to form a round shape. Hold for a few breaths.

To relieve pain and pressure in your low back and hips, alternate between tilting forward and back for 10 reps, holding each pose as long as you like.

Single Leg Toe Touch

From a standing position, raise one foot off the ground and look down at the floor to maintain your balance.

Bend your hips and raise your back leg behind you while reaching your fingers towards the toes of the standing leg. Try to get your body as parallel to the ground as possible.

Slowly rise back up with control.

Repeat the exercise 10 times on one side, then switch to the other side.

Glute Kicks 

Get down on your hands and knees, and bend your right leg up so that your foot is pointing straight up. Keep your left leg relaxed and don’t bend it.

Serpentine your arms over your head, keeping your palms facing each other, and bend your entire body to the left. Do a standing side stretch by lifting your right leg to form a straight line from your right knee to shoulders, with your right foot facing the ceiling. Then, serpentine your arms over your head, keeping your palms facing each other, and bend your entire body to the left.

Squeeze your glutes and hold for three seconds, then release and let your knee fall back to the ground.

Do 10 reps on one side, then switch and do 10 on the other.

Resistance Band Knee Extension with a Chair | 10 reps per side

Sit up tall, and engage your core. Wrap a resistance band around one leg of a chair, and tie the other end around your knee. Sit up tall, and engage your core.

To begin the exercise, hold the back of the chair with both hands. Step away from the chair until you feel the resistance band become tight.

Your banded leg should be directly below your hips.

Extend your leg fully, resisting the tension in the band.

After bringing your knee up, relax it and keep your foot on the ground.

Repeat for 10 reps, then switch legs.

Isometric Quad-Flex 

Sit on the ground and place a rolled-up bath towel under your right knee. Bend your left leg so that your foot is flat on the floor. Bend your right leg and place your right ankle on top of your left knee. Gently pull your left leg toward your chest. You should feel a stretch in your right inner thigh. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat for the other side.

Sit with your back straight and your hands on the ground behind you for support.

Extend your leg to push your heel back down. Lift your right leg, flexing your knee and feeling the muscles around it activate. Then push your heel back down, extending your leg.

Hold this flex for five full seconds, then relax.

Do the following six times on this leg, then switch to the other leg.

You can increase the difficulty of the text by doing more repetitions, or by holding each position for a longer time.


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