Our Top Ten Tips to Get You Moving In Spite of Arthritis
No one is happy when they suffer from those aches and pain symptoms of arthritis and they may worry about the level of exercise (if any) that they can safely carry out.
To this end, we are sharing ten ways to help you decide what you can do to get moving.
This exercise can help to strengthen the core and legs, making sure your knees are not affected. The method is to keep your heels firmly on the ground while you squat with your tummy tucked in, your back straight and your knees and toes facing forwards. If you can do this exercise against a wall, this will provide extra support. Gradually build up the number of squats you can do each day.
Standing Wall Pushups
For support, face a wall, standing a little further than one arm’s length away. Place your hands against the wall at shoulder height while bending your elbows and lower your upper body toward the wall. Hold for several seconds if you can, then slowly push yourself back to straighten your arms. Increase the number of pushups as you become stronger.
Lateral Arm Raises
While sitting in a chair with your back straight, hold light weights in each hand (about 3 to 10 pounds each). Rotate your arms so that your thumbs face outward. At the same time, gently raise your arms out to the sides so they are parallel to the ground. Wait and then slowly bring your arms down again. Keep repeating as you become more used to this exercise.
Knee Extension Exercises
These are useful to strengthen your quadricep muscles. Sit in a chair and slowly extend your legs in front of you so they become parallel to the floor (one leg at a time might be easier). Lift until your knee is straight and foot is flexed, with your toes pointing toward your head. Hold your legs in this position for several seconds before slowly lowering your legs down again. Keep repeating.
Water & Swimming Exercises
These are particularly helpful in reducing the joint pain and stiffness symptoms of arthritis. One way is to walk in the shallow end of a pool for twenty to thirty minutes to achieve aerobic exercise – the water will add resistance making your muscles work harder.
While in hot weather, an outdoor pool can become pleasantly warm, a heated all weather indoor pool is ideal for the arthritis sufferer as the warmer the water, the more the joints can loosen up. Water-based exercise improves the use of those affected joints and decreases pain whichever type of arthritis because swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible.
Swimming is a relaxing and peaceful form of exercise, helping to alleviate stress and so relaxing because it allows more oxygen to flow to your muscles and forces you to regulate your breathing. A side effect is the release of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins.
Being careful not to over do the exercise, cycling moderately for twenty to forty minutes per session will provide cardiovascular exercise while building muscles in the legs and back. To avoid an aching back, sit upright as much as possible. Another plan can be to ride a stationary bike at home or in a gym, or take a spin class – gently.
Yoga is a great way to stretch the whole body and also build both lower and upper body strength. It’s a good introductory form of exercise for people with arthritis who are not moving a lot. The most suitable and beneficial yoga positions include: neck stretches, warriors 1 and 2, chair pose, forward folds and tree pose – the last one is good for improving balance. Once again, be careful not to overdo it while avoiding anything that causes pain or puts pressure on the joints. Yoga positions to avoid include: backbends, arm balances the downward facing dog position. We tell you more about yoga for arthritis in our earlier post.
Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise to improve your core strength. There are two exercises to help with arthritis symptoms. One is “roll downs” where you tuck your chin to your chest, draw your tummy in and fold over your legs. Another is “reclined twists” where you lay on your side, bring your knees bent to one side then another. Pilates basic crunches can also be helpful.
If you can master the art of Tai Chi, you can help to prevent the stress and damage of falls while relieving any stress and even improve coordination. Tai chi, short for t’ai chi ch’üan, is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. The term taiji refers to a philosophy of the forces of yin and yang, related to the moves.
As with anything in life, moderation is key. Any exercise that those suffering from arthritis undertake must be done with care – gently and safely.
What not to do if you have arthritis?
Physiotherapists recommend avoiding certain types of exercise and these include:
- Golf, basketball, tennis and other types of activity involving repetition.
- Lifting weights above the shoulders, touching your toes repeatedly and leg lifts as all these may strain the joints.
If in any doubt, always seek medical advice.