Arthritis is not for sissies. It hurts when you move, but it hurts more when you don’t move. Finding that balance is key to reducing arthritis pain. When it’s painful to grasp your cup of coffee or amble down a flight of stairs, the last thing on your mind is exercising. Joint pain, fatigue, and reduced range of motion are just some of the symptoms of arthritis that can make exercise seem difficult, painful, and counterproductive for your condition.
However, according to Dr. Craig Erekson, Orthopedic Surgeon at OSMC, a regular exercise routine is one of the healthiest ways to reduce arthritis symptoms. “Exercise will increase both muscle and bone strength, naturally reducing joint pain,” Dr. Erekson explains. “On the other hand,” he notes, “a lack of physical activity can weaken the muscles supporting your joints, causing increased pain, stiffness, and stress to your joints.”
Fortunately, exercise offers countless benefits for arthritis, including improved balance, flexibility, endurance and energy.
The following five exercises, ideal for those with arthritis, can help improve your symptoms while also enhancing your overall quality of life.
#1 Walking. Walking is an easy, low-impact aerobic exercise that nearly anyone can do regardless of fitness level. Walking strengthens your bones and muscles, increases your range of motion, and shifts pressure and weight from joints and muscles to reduce arthritis pain. “We encourage our patients to try to walk for at least 20 minutes a day to find reduced arthritic pain,” Dr. Erekson notes.
#2 Yoga. According to www.arthritis.org, people with various types of arthritis who practice yoga regularly can reduce joint pain, improve joint flexibility and function, and lower stress and tension to promote better sleep. Many people turn to yoga as a way to exercise gently, as well as to reduce tension and improve joint flexibility. If you’re new to yoga, look for a qualified instructor who can show you a gentle, easy yoga routine for beginners that involves movements and poses that protect your joints while improving your strength and flexibility.
#3 Water Exercises. Water is your friend. Performing exercises in water can help minimize pain and reduce stress on your joints since water supports your body’s entire weight. Did you know that water offers 12 times the resistance of air? Water workouts can effectively help you build muscle and strength while improving balance and range of motion. Come up with some good water ideas such as: A. Join a gym with a pool, then start walking or swimming laps. B: join a water aerobics class and bring a couple of your friends.
#4 Hand Stretches. Those with arthritis in their hands know how difficult minor tasks can be (tying a shoe, cutting food with a knife, even typing on a computer). Hand stretches and exercises can make joints in your hands more flexible and improve the range of motion to reduce pain. Arthritis.org recommends you spread your fingers as widely as possible, make a fist, then repeat that same stretching and squeezing motion at least ten times with each hand. Next, stretch all your fingers out straight, then bend each of your fingers and thumb down toward the palm one by one, holding each finger for about two or three seconds. Perform these hand exercises daily to benefit from consistent relief from arthritis symptoms.
#5 Strength Training. Strength training exercises like weightlifting or push-ups will help you strengthen muscles and bones — thereby providing greater support to your joints. At the same time, you’ll notice a reduction in pain, stiffness, and swelling. Work with an experienced physical therapist or fitness trainer who can develop a strength-training routine comprised of safe and ideal movements for your type of arthritis.
If you have arthritis and haven’t tried an exercise routine, start there. If you’re struggling or don’t feel like you’re making progress, please talk to your doctor. Your doctor will help create an exercise plan tailored to you, your arthritis, and your symptoms.
You can schedule an appointment with an OSMC doctor even without a referral from your primary care doctor. Same day appointments are available at all of our locations. Call 574-264-0791 or use our online appointment scheduler.
This blog post is not intended to provide personal medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment to you or to any other individual. It is information for educational purposes only. You should not use this information in place of a consultation or the advice of a healthcare provider.