If you live with arthritis, you know how uncomfortable it can feel to get going when your joints are stiff. Regular movement, however, can help reduce pain and stiffness caused by arthritis. While it might be difficult at first, the right types of exercise will help your joints loosen up and make living with arthritis easier.
You know that exercise is a good habit to get into, but it can be difficult to know where to start. We have a few simple exercises to help you combat common types of arthritis below.
Quick note: always check with your doctor before trying new exercises to ensure these types of movements are safe for your body. Everyone’s experience with arthritis is different, so it’s best to check with a trusted professional before trying something new.
Exercises for your hands
Arthritis in the hands is very common. The stiffness and pain around your knuckles can make something as simple as opening a jar much more difficult. If you experience this type of arthritis, try the exercises below—all of these are easy to do while watching TV or listening to music.
To try a finger lift, place one hand flat on a table.
Raise your thumb and keep it raised for two seconds, then slowly lower it and do the same motion with your index finger, then middle finger, then ring finger, and pinky.
Be sure to raise only one at a time and move each finger up and down slowly.
Once you’ve finished one hand, try the other.
Repeat this exercise two-three times each day.
Make a fist
It’s as easy as it sounds! Gently open your hand so that all of your fingers are straight.
Pull your fingers in slowly and fold them in the shape of a fist—with your thumb resting outside on top of your fingers.
Do not squeeze, this is a soft stretch.
Make a fist 10 times with your right hand, then do the same with your left hand.
For this exercise, extend your left hand out in front of your body.
Keep your fingers straight, your arm and wrist flat, and face your palm down toward the ground.
Use your right hand to hold your left hand, just below your wrist.
Slowly bend your left hand, until it is perpendicular to your wrist and your fingers are pointing straight toward the ground.
Hold that position for about two seconds and then slowly straighten your wrist until your fingers are flat with your arm again.
Repeat this exercise a total of 10 times on your left hand, then do the same with your right hand.
Exercises for your hips and knees
Walking is a great exercise for those who have arthritis in the hips and knees. If you can get outside and walk for a half-hour around your neighborhood, your body will start to loosen up. But not everyone has access to safe walking areas, and sometimes the weather may prevent you from getting outside. Below is an exercise routine you can do from the comfort of your home and still enjoy the benefits of an outdoor walk—and then some!
March in place
Find a space in your home where you can march in place and then begin by slowly walking.
When you feel warmed up, lift your knees a little higher, until your raised foot is about the height of the middle of your opposite shin.
March for 20 steps and keep marching as you begin the following moves:
Widen your feet until they are slightly beyond shoulder-width.
March like that for 20 steps.
Then move your legs back to their original march position.
After 20 regular march steps, then resume a wide march for 20 steps.
Marching leg curls
In the wide march stance, gently bend one knee up for one step (as high and as quickly as feels comfortable—don’t overdo it) and then do the same with the opposite knee.
Rotate between each knee for a total of 20 steps then resume the regular march.
After 20 regular march steps, then resume marching leg curls.
Repeat this entire routine until 15-30 minutes have passed.
Find an exercise routine
It may be difficult at first because your body has become accustomed to a more stationary position. Arthritis, however, is best combated with regular movement. Begin slowly and gently, you do not need to push your body to see results. Small regular movements can greatly help reduce pain and stiffness that keeps you from enjoying a comfortable and pain-free day.