Although intense training can often aggravate joint inflammation, regular exercise is an important part of managing the stiffness and chronic pain of arthritis. The key is to do low intensity exercises, which not only help strengthen muscles and improve flexibility, but can also help reduce inflammation.
Remember: there is no regimen that suits everyone. Those suffering from arthritis should take special care to avoid exercises that may hit or shake the affected joints. Always consult with a health professional before beginning any exercise routine. A physiotherapist can recommend specific exercises for you, based on your capacity and your needs. A therapist can teach you how to track your progress and adjust your exercises, as needed.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends three elements for your routine: exercises that improve flexibility, exercises that develop strength and increase your aerobic capacity.
There are many stretching routines you can perform each day in the comfort of your own home.
Tai Chi, yoga, and stretching exercises are good ways to increase range of motion for many people. However, there are many stretching routines you can perform each day in the comfort of your own home.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends these basic stretches:
• Stretching of the chest and arm, standing: interlace the fingers behind the back and squeeze the shoulder blades; then rotate the shoulders back and forth. • Knee to chest stretch: While lying on your back, hold the knee bent and gently bring it to your chest. • Lateral curvature, standing: raise your arms up above your head and bend your body slowly from side to side. • Quadriceps Stretch, standing: in front of a wall, place one hand on the wall to maintain balance and use the other hand to pull your leg flexed towards the buttocks. • Triceps, standing: Bring the arms behind the head and bend the elbow so that it points towards the ceiling. Walk with your fingers slowly down to try to reach your back. Bring your other arm and gently press the elbow with your hand to increase the stretch. • Seated butterfly stretch: Sit cross-legged with the soles of your feet together and use your elbow to gently push your knees to the floor. • Seated hamstring stretch: Sit with your back straight with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend one knee and slowly let it fall to the floor, keeping the other leg extended.Slowly, gently, lean toward the extended leg while keeping the other leg bent, with the sole of the foot pressing against the inner thigh of the extended leg.
Joint inflammation and lack of physical activity can weaken muscles over time. However, exercises that develop muscle strength can help reduce pain and inflammation by supporting the joints and protecting them from bumps and injuries.
Some low-impact strength exercises are:
• Seated row: Sit upright on a chair and tie the exercise band around your outstretched feet. As you slowly pull the handles on the ends of the exercise band toward your chest, tighten the muscles of the abdomen and shoulder blades. • Puppet stretching, sitting: sit straight with your hands down to the sides. Imagine that there is a thread connected to the upper back of your head, pulling it towards the ceiling, relaxing the chin and lengthening the spine. • Spinal: lie on your stomach with your arms next to your body. Squeeze the shoulder blades and buttocks and slowly lift the shoulders and head, keeping the chest in contact with the carpet or the floor.
As with all new exercise routines, start carefully to gradually increase your heart rate and improve your endurance and stamina. Consider basic ways to increase your heart rate, such as:
• Walking • Riding a bicycle - most doctors recommend the use of a stationary bicycle • Swimming • Movement and exercise in hot water
Once again It is important to adapt your exercise routine to your specific needs and limitations. Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.
About the author
Dean Haycock holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Brown University and received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study at The Rockefeller University.
His research on neuropharmacology has been published in Journals of Neurochemistry, Biological Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and in Brain Research.
Haycock is the author of The Everything Health Guide to Schizophrenia, The Everything Health Guide to Adult Bipolar Disorder, second edition, and co-author of Overcoming Complications of LASIK and Other Eye Surgeries.