Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness can seriously hamper your quality of life. Some conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and inflammatory conditions might call for routine exercises and activities to help lessen symptoms. Though even perfectly healthy people can still benefit from taking the time to perform some basic stretches and exercises to maintain the fluidity of motion and mobility.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that low-impact aerobic exercises, like walking, swimming, or biking, three to five times a week, for 30 to 60-minutes at a time can help improve a wide range of arthritis symptoms. Just be sure to consult with your physician before engaging in vigorous exercise. Especially if you are dealing with fatigue related to rheumatoid arthritis.
Simple Exercises For Joint Pain & Stiffness
The following are simple exercises you can do in your home or office to help maintain a fluid range of motion and combat stiffness throughout a wide range of joints and muscles.
This is a great, yet simple exercise to help loosen up the shoulders as well as many neck muscles. It’s also very easy to perform. Stand as straight as possible, with your arms hanging freely at your sides. Then roll your shoulders forward for 10 revolutions and backward for 10 revolutions.
This is another standing exercise that helps loosen the shoulders as well as the middle and upper back. It’s especially handy for stretching the latissimus muscles. You start by lifting your right hand over your head and lean your body gently to the left. Hold it for a 10-count. Then repeat the motion the other way. If your upper back or shoulders are particularly stiff, you can do this bend with 3 to 5 repetitions.
This is a great exercise for loosening the hips and in some cases might help temporarily reduce sciatica discomfort. You will need to stand next to a sturdy chair. Hold onto it with your left hand, then gently swing your right leg back and forth, while keeping your back straight. After 10 repetitions, you can switch and repeat with the other side.
This exercise is a great follow-up to hip swings. You can simply sit in the same sturdy chair, brace yourself with the left foot flat on the floor while holding your right leg straight. Then point your toe out and gradually pull it back to point your toe back toward your face if possible. Hold for 20 to 30-seconds. Repeat for 3 repetitions before switching to your other leg.
This is another exercise that loosens the lower back, hips, and improves overall fluidity of motion. To do this you’ll need to lay on the floor. If you’ve been having problems getting up off the floor on your own, take steps in advance to make sure you can safely and easily get back up. Once on the floor, slightly arch your back and rotate your knees to the right. Let the muscles loosen as your knees pull you into the stretch. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
This is another exercise that you can perform while laying down on the floor. It helps to further stretch the hips and may also benefit the knees. Simply lay flat on your back and rotate your toes inward into a pigeon-toed until they touch. Repeat for 10 repetitions.
Daily Activities To Help With Joint Pain & Stiffness
Isaac Newton said that an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and this idea also rings true with the human body. Getting 30 to 60-minutes of exercise each day will go a long way toward helping you stay in shape, lose some weight, maintain healthy bone density, and can even help reduce your risk of heart disease. The following are some low-impact exercises to consider adding to your daily routine.
Swimming is a great activity that benefits both your cardiovascular fitness as well as your muscles and joints. As time goes on, improved muscle tone from swimming 2 to 3 times a week can also help stabilize joints. Even if you aren’t comfortable swimming traditional laps, many gyms and athletic clubs offer things like a water aerobics class.
Moderate Strength Training
Strong muscles help to better stabilize joints and can also help improve bone density. There is even a growing body of research that suggests moderate strength training can help improve the way the brain’s motor neurons control motion in daily movements.
While modern gym equipment has evolved from the traditional image of “Pumping Iron” free weights are still a good option. Though things like resistance bands, cable machines, and other exercises equipment that exerts load-bearing force are also great options. The goal is to try to exercise large muscle groups with 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Cycling has long been prized as a great exercise for cardiovascular health, weight loss, and improving overall mobility. Though there is a lingering chance of falling. So, if an accidental fall is a serious concern for you, then you might want to look for a stationary bike or recumbent bike. There are even conversion kits that let you quickly transform your outdoor bicycle from the summer into your indoor riding machine in the cold winter.
Yoga, Tai Chi & Pilates
The overall health benefits of yoga, tai chi, and pilates are immense. Especially for seniors, people rehabilitating from an injury, or those who need to gradually improve their range of motion as well as flexibility. Though certain disciplines do come with an increased risk of falling. So, it’s best to consult with your physician and try to find a class that is tailored to your specific goals.
As time goes on, yoga, tai chi, and pilates classes can help improve mind-body control. In the long-term, this can reduce your risk of falling, while also helping to improve range of motion and flexibility. Some people even report improvements in muscle mass, muscle tone, and weight loss.
Improving your basic fitness level is an important step in helping to not only cope with stiff muscles and joints, but it can also improve your cardiovascular health. Starting your day with some basic stretching exercises is a great place to start. As you feel your range of motion and mobility improving, you might want to add in some activities like swimming, cycling, or tai chi to help improve your overall fitness and body control.