The CDC states that 54 million Americans have arthritis. Women have a statistically higher risk of arthritis than men, and the older you get, the more at risk you are for developing arthritis. You can take preventative measures to lower your risk of arthritis in some regions of your body, such as maintaining a healthy weight to alleviate pressure in your knees. Additionally, range of motion exercises for arthritis can help you maintain your quality of life.
Benefits of Range of Motion Exercises
Range of motion is beneficial for people of all ages, even if you don't have arthritis. If you're experiencing stiffness or notice that you've lost some range of motion, performing daily or twice-daily exercises through the full range of motion can help.
Some of the many benefits of these exercises are:
- You'll alleviate some of the joint and muscle stiffness you experience
- Flexibility increases when you move your joints through the full range of motion
- The risk of injury is reduced when your muscles are less stiff and more fluid
- Posture improves, reducing back pain
- Overall joint function increases
Basic range-of-motion exercises can be performed multiple times per day. If you're older or have difficulty maintaining your balance, we're going to cover exercises that you can perform seated or lying down to reduce your risk of falling.
Note: Pain, stiffness, and inflammation can all make it difficult to maintain a full range of motion. The range of motion may not be 100%, but it will decrease further over time without exercising the muscle. Perform these exercises until they offer a moderate stretch and try to go a little bit further each day until you restore mobility.
Why You Should Do Range of Motion Exercises
Maintaining your range of motion is never a bad thing. Range of motion allows you to move freely, reduces the risk of injury, and means you'll feel less stiff. However, if you're not sure if you should perform these exercises, research shows that people with arthritis suffer from decreased range of motion.
If you perform these exercises, you'll reduce the risk of a range of motion loss.
- Keep your muscles strong
- Maintain flexibility
- Retain your quality of life
Ready to perform a few exercises? Let's look at some exercises that you can begin performing today, even with severe arthritis.
Range of Motion Exercises for Arthritis
If you want to help ease pain, improve your mobility or increase your joint flexibility, setting time aside for range of motion exercises is ideal. The key most important thing is to perform these exercises gently.
A few of the many exercises that you can perform are:
- Knees: Strong knees will help you maintain your mobility into your later years in life. One knee exercise that is safe and easy to perform is to sit on a chair with your back flush against the chair's back. While keeping your thighs on the seat and one foot on the ground, straighten one leg hold the position for a few seconds. Control your leg coming down and bring your foot back as far as possible until it touches the ground. Repeat on both sides ten times.
- Shoulders: A great exercise to perform in bed or on the floor is a shoulder raise. You'll want to keep your back flush on the ground or bed and raise one arm slowly overhead. The end position will include your arm, almost eye level. Then, slowly return your arm to the starting position and repeat on each arm 10 times.
- Hands: If your hands ache, you're not alone. A simple exercise for hand range of motion is to hold your hand out in front of you and close it, keeping your fingers firm against your palm versus curling them. Next, open your hand as wide as you can and touch your thumb and pinky finger together. You can also take this time to stretch your thumb outward.
- Hips: Find a hard surface to lay on and straighten your legs on the ground so that your feet are pointing towards the sky. Keep your toes towards the ceiling and move one leg out as far to the side as you can while keeping your other foot firm on the floor. Repeat this exercise on both legs 10 times or more.
When you perform these exercises, you need to pay close attention to your level of pain. If your pain is mild, that's fine. But when your pain is moderate to severe, you should stop performing these exercises.
Range of motion exercises can be performed as often as you like, as long as you don't feel pain or discomfort. The exercises you perform can be done safely on the floor or on a chair, and they're easy on the joints.
If you perform these exercises every day, you'll keep your muscles and joints limber.
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