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What Exercise is Best for Osteoarthritis?

The pain of osteoarthritis is progressive, as is the disease. Arthritis pain is more common in the mornings after hours of rest. For some people, the pain can last throughout the day. It can make moving very difficult. Walking and gentle exercises can help to loosen the stiffened joints.

There are many exercises for people who experience joint pain and stiffness due to osteoarthritis.

Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder Rolls is a beneficial exercise for people experiencing pain and stiffness in their shoulders and back. This exercise works on releasing the stiffness of the shoulders without causing a lot of pressure. This exercise also helps increase mobility without pain.

  • To perform shoulder rolls, stand with your back straight and feet set at shoulder width. If this exercise is too strenuous while standing, it can be performed while sitting down.
  • Lift your shoulders as if you are shrugging, then roll your shoulders backward.
  • Repeat the exercise five times in a row, then reverse the motion to forward shoulder rolls five times.

When you perform the shoulder rolls daily for several days, you can increase the number of shoulder rolls you perform.

Leg Lifts

Leg lifts help with the larger joints of the body: the hips and knees. Leg lifts provide a low-impact exercise to move these joints.

  • While sitting on a chair with an armrest, slide your knees about 2 inches away from the chair’s bottom edge.
  • Slowly extend one leg straight outward, just slightly above the chair. Repeat this leg lift ten times on each leg.
  • Increase repetitions each week as you build more endurance.

While performing this exercise, you should feel some muscle stretching in your legs. If this exercise causes you some pain, talk to your doctor before continuing.

Chair Sits

The Chair Sits exercise can help people who have arthritis in their shoulders, back, and hips. This exercise can help with sitting down and rising from a sitting position. When sitting for prolonged times, some people with arthritis have increased stiffness and the inability to move as they wish. These brief exercises help to move and increase the flexibility of the joints.

  • First, begin with placing a sturdy chair with armrests against a wall for stability.
  • Stand with your backside, ready to sit in the chair.
  • Slowly lower yourself into the seat using the arm support if needed.
  • While sitting down, count 30 seconds then slowly rise back up to a standing position.
  • Repeat this exercise 5 times in a row.

Each week, increase the number of times you perform this exercise.

Resistance Band Training

Resistance bands are a rubbery strip of material that stretches and is used for resistance training. It can help people with arthritis to increase their resistance during normal exercise.

  • With the resistance band held firmly in both hands, hold one hand straight out in front of you while stretching the resistance band with the other hand out to the side. Repeat the exercise 5 times.
  • With the opposite hand, hold the band straight in front of you while stretching the resistance band to the side. Repeat the exercise 5 times.

You also can stand in the middle of a resistance band and stretch one leg to the side, repeating it five times. Repeat the exercise with the other leg five times.

Wall Pushups

While pushups are one of the best exercises for resistance and bone strengthening, someone with arthritis may not be able to get on or up off of the floor after doing the exercises. However, there are modified push ups that can be done while standing up.

  • Stand an arm’s length away from a flat wall.
  • At shoulder height, place your hands with palms flat on the wall.
  • Keep your feet shoulders width and your feet flat on the floor, slowly lower yourself towards the wall.
  • Push yourself away from the wall to complete one repetition.

When starting this exercise, try to perform it at least 15 times.

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics is one of the most recommended and performed exercises for people who suffer from osteoarthritis. People who perform water aerobics report less joint pain and an increased range of motion. Due to water being dense, it exerts a buoyant force on our body in an upward direction. This helps to decrease a person’s weight, enabling them to move with less weight on their bones. Water aerobics can increase the resistance on the muscles.

Resistance strengthens and helps you burn more calories. The water slows down body movements and allows you to exercise without the impact you would feel outside of the water. There is a less chance of danger from falling or fracturing your bones while exercising submerged in water. If you have access to a swimming pool, you can do many common exercises submerged in the pool on your own or with a friend.

While submerged in water, there are a variety of motion exercises you can perform, such as:

  • Bicep curls
  • Leg lifts
  • Leg kicks
  • Wrist stretches

Try these movements the next time you are at the community recreation center or in your pool.

In addition, if you like group classes, many local recreation centers offer group water aerobic classes that meet weekly. Check your local recreation center’s schedule to find out if these classes are available close to you!

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