You know you have arthritis when you begin to feel a creaking in your ankles, knees or other joints. Indeed, it is a very painful condition and the thought of exercising with arthritis is even scarier. However, research has shown that regular exercise can actually lessen and even relieve arthritic pain and the associated symptoms of stiffness and swelling.
First off, let us understand the importance of exercising with arthritis: exercising helps increase the range of motion in the affected joint. It helps strengthen the surrounding muscles that bring about motion across the joint, build endurance and improve joint stability and balance. It is important to bear in mind that activities must be joint-friendly.
Read on and we will give you the top 5 exercises, that you can do along with a personalised Homeopathy treatment, if you are having painful arthritic joints.
The Leg Raise (Lying):
Lie flat on your back on the floor with your arms at your sides, toes up. Keeping your leg straight, tighten your leg muscles and slowly lift the leg several inches off the ground. Tighten your stomach muscles to push your lower back down. Hold and count to five, then lower the leg as slowly as possible. Repeat, and then switch to the other leg. Start with one set of four raises for each leg. This exercise strengthens the quadriceps, which are the large muscles on the front of your thigh that help bending of your knee joint.
The Hamstring Stretch (Lying):
Lie on the floor (or bed) with both legs bent at the knees and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift one leg, still bent, and bring your knee back toward your chest. Extend and link your hands under your thigh (not your knee) and straighten your leg. Pull your straight leg back toward your head until you feel a stretch in your thighs. Hold this stance for 30 to 60 seconds, and then slowly lower your leg back to the floor. This exercise stretches and strengthens your hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thigh that attach to the knee and help in extending it.
Walking is the most easily doable form of exercise for those with arthritis. All you have to do is tie those laces, open the front door and take the first step. Classified as a weight-bearing exercise, walking helps reinforce bone density by placing your full bodyweight on top of your bones and joints. It also strengthens your heart, lungs and overall endurance. Start at a pace that will make you mildly short of breath, but you are still able to talk. Each week, increase the distance and pace. Avoid walking too vigorously. Walking is better than running as it does not overexert the knee joint while giving it good mobility.
Stationary or Outdoor Cycling:
Cycling avoids the high-impact of aerobic activities, but still packs great cardiovascular benefits by improving the strength of your heart. It also strengthens the quadriceps muscles that drive the knees. Try cycling for 10 minutes at a time. Build up to 30 to 40 minutes two to three times a week. Biking is also a great way to feel the wind in your hair. Cycling can be done indoors in the winter months on a stationary bike, or outdoors when the air is warm and inviting. If cycling is new to you, start with short time slots of at least 10 minutes. Then extend those as your stamina improves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)”in USA, people with rheumatoid arthritis show greater improvements in health after participating in hydrotherapy, exercising in warm water, than with other activities. A recent review in the Journal of Musculoskeletal Care found that people with RA who participated in hydrotherapy had less pain and joint tenderness. Hydrotherapy even improved their mood and overall well-being. Water-based exercises, like swimming and water aerobics, also improve the use of affected joints and decrease pain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA recommends that exercises for arthritis need to be done
- Starting low, and going slowly
- Modify the exercise if your pain gets worse, but trying to stay active
- Activities need to be gentle of the joints
- Recognizing and learning safe ways to exercise
- Talk with a health professional about any new form of activity.
As the old adage goes, anything excess is bad. So, do not overwork yourself rather, exercise with moderation and you will reap the benefits of the same.
Photo by Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit