Reduce Orthopedic Arthritis Pain with a Few Simple Exercises
You can do orthopedic exercises for yourself at home – and reduce your arthritis pain! The following exercises for arthritis help patients to become stronger and more flexible, while increasing endurance and balance.
Resistance Training for Orthopedic Strength
Stronger muscles can act as ‘shock absorbers’ for your joints (just like the shocks in a truck). By lifting something heavier than the joint itself, you can improve strength. This can often be done using just your own body weight.
To build the strength of your quadriceps (thigh muscle), you can do simple squats out of a chair:
- Sit in a chair
- Lean forward
- Stand up
For a variation that strengthens the same muscles, you can lean against a wall with knees slightly bent. Hold this position for 10 seconds, stand up, rest a bit and repeat!
Stretching to Improve Flexibility
Everyone knows stretching is good for our bodies, but many think of cirque-de-soliel when discussing flexibility. Even a small increase in stretching can prevent orthopedic problems like arthritis from progressing and can help the pain. It can be done whenever you think about it. A good stretch begins by moving the joint to a position where you feel that it has been stretched, hold for 10 seconds and then push very slightly more. Heating before stretching and then icing afterwards helps, as well.
Sample Exercise: Hip and Knee Stretch
You may only be able to reach your knees when you begin; even moving to the mid-calf will be great for arthritis in the hips and knees.
- Sit on the floor and reach for your toes until you feel a comfortable stretch.
- Hold for 10 seconds
- Push very slightly more into the stretch
Aerobic Exercise for Endurance
Motion is a key to orthopedic health. Joints that do not move will deteriorate and become even more arthritic joints. Low impact aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, and bicycling will strengthen your heart and lungs, allowing you added energy throughout the day. Endurance depends on how much oxygen gets to the muscles and joints, and how the muscles and joints use that oxygen.
Sample Exercise: Walk
The impact of running will negatively affect your arthritic joints, but walking will not and actually helps the joints. Walking for 20-30 minutes at least three times a week is recommended.
Balance for Even Weight Distribution
Balance involves the ability to maintain one position for a long time without falling. It is a variation of endurance, and improves with better strength and flexibility. Balance is very important for joints as it allows for the even distribution of weight. When weight is evenly distributed then cartilage is not as easily damaged (causing orthopedic ailments such as arthritis). Yoga and tai-chi are both good ways to improve balance, and reduce the rates of hip and wrist fractures.
Sample Exercise: Tree Pose (Yoga)
- Stand on one leg
- Place the sole of the other foot on the standing calf
- Focus on a spot on the wall and hold still
- Leave the toe of the other foot on the ground and place the heel against the ankle
By doing these few simple exercises in a short amount of time at home, you can gain relief from the pain and discomfort of arthritis. By incorporating this routine and other simple exercises (as recommended by your physical therapist or orthopedic doctor) into a regular, daily routine, you can experience greater strength, endurance, and flexibility for improved health and movement!
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Dr. Meredith Warner is a board certified, Fellowship Trained Foot and Ankle, Orthopedic surgeon practicing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Warner is committed to offering her patients an accurate diagnosis along with a comprehensive treatment plan in order to get them back to a pain free life. Dr. Meredith Warner specializes in the treatment of orthopedic issues, providing operative and non-operative treatment plans of orthopedic problems, including musculoskeletal pain such as chronic back, neck and foot pain, reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle, arthritis, diabetic, hammer toe, bunion, wound care, work injuries, fitness and nutrition and osteoporosis issues.