Arthritis is a common condition that causes inflammation and swelling of the joints. This can be painful, leaving you to deal with stiffness and tenderness that typically worsens with age. If you’re one of the three million Americans experiencing arthritis-related pain every year, you have probably searched for solutions that can prevent or relieve your struggles. The easiest form of relief is also the most accessible – daily exercise!
Regular Exercise Can Improve Pain and Function
I know, the idea of exercise and physical exertion seems like it would stress your joints and cause further damage, but that’s not the case with Osteoarthritis. Exercise is actually the best non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in those with OA. Daily exercises can strengthen muscles, helping to shift pressure away from joints, thus reducing pain. Additional benefits include increased balance and strength, which are both critical to avoiding dangerous falls as you age.
Some exercises to try out:
Wrist Bends: Bend your hand back toward your wrist so that your fingers point toward the ceiling. Then bend your hand down so that your fingers point toward the floor.
Wrist Rotations: Move your hand from side to side. Then roll your hand in circles in one direction. Roll your hand in circles in the other direction.
Finger bends: Make a tight fist. Then open and relax your hand.
Finger spreads: Open your hand and stretch the fingers as far apart as possible. Bring your fingers together again.
Finger-to-thumb touches: One at a time, touch each fingertip to the pad of your thumb.
Hip and knee bends: Point your toes. Slowly bend your knee up as close to your chest as possible. Straighten your leg and return it to a flat position on the bed.
Knee rotation, in and out: Lie on your back on the bed. Bend your knee so the bottom of your foot is flat on the bed. Slide your heel towards your buttocks. Return your foot to the starting position.
Ankle rotation: Raise your foot slightly off the floor. Roll your ankle in circles. Then roll your ankle in circles in the other direction.
Toe bends: Curl your toes down toward the sole (bottom) of your foot. Straighten them. Curl them up toward the ceiling. Then straighten them again.
If exercises aren’t an option, simply living an active lifestyle can also be helpful in combating arthritis pain. Walking, raking leaves, and gardening offer some of the same benefits as these exercises.