7 Best Stretches For Arthritis Pain
7 Best Stretches For Arthritis Pain
From achy, swollen joints to all-over inflammation or stiffness, dealing with the symptoms of arthritis can be annoying at best and debilitating at worst. And while you may think the condition only strikes older people, think again: Of the estimated 50 million adults in the U.S. who deal with arthritis, two-thirds of them are under the age of 65, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Though it can be tempting to stay sedentary when you’re dealing with an arthritis flare-up, Jessica Matthews, author of Stretching to Stay Young: Simple Workouts to Keep You Flexible, Energized, and Pain-Free, says stretching can go a long way toward helping you feel better, fast.
“When you have arthritis, dynamic stretches can help increase your range of motion and keep your joints lubricated, which can ease some of the stiffness and pain associated with the condition,” says Matthews. (You can also try these 11 workout tips for achy joints.)
Here, Matthews shares her 7 favorite stretches to ease arthritis pain. “These particular stretches focus on the four key joints in the body that are designed to be mobile—the ankles, hips, thoracic spine, and shoulders—and have been shown to enhance the efficiency and quality of movements,” she says. “Ultimately, these stretches can help those with arthritis improve their quality of life.” (Got 10 minutes? Try Prevention’s new 10-minute workouts and 10-minute meals to lose weight—and keep it off for good.)
This dynamic motion helps to loosen your upper back while also effectively warming you up for various activities, from everyday tasks to exercises such as dancing, swimming, and cycling.
How-to: Begin in a hands-and-knees position, with your wrists aligned below your shoulders and your knees aligned below your hips. Keep your spine extended and your toes tucked under. Inhale, relax your belly so it moves toward the floor, and gently arch your back, tilting your tailbone and chin toward the ceiling. Exhale, gently round your spine, draw your chin toward your chest, and untuck your toes, placing the tops of your feet on the floor. Repeat 8 times.
This stretch improves range of motion in your shoulder joints, minimizing pain and decreasing the likelihood of shoulder-related injuries.
How-to: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, arms bent alongside your body, elbows pinned into your sides, and palms facing up. Keeping your arms in contact with the floor, inhale and slide your arms out and over your head until your index fingers touch. As you exhale, slide your arms back down to the starting position, keeping your arms and hands in contact with the floor throughout the movement. Repeat 8 times.
This is a great range-of-motion exercise that loosens your ankle joints, which can make you more comfortable when walking, running, and hiking. This stretch can also help reduce knee pain.
How-to: Sit near the edge of a chair with both feet firmly planted on the floor and your hands resting on your thighs. Lift your right foot off the floor and extend your right leg slightly away from your body. Without moving your lifted leg, move your foot in a circular motion clockwise at the ankle 5 times, then repeat going counterclockwise 5 times. Repeat with the left foot, performing 5 ankle circles in each direction.
This stretch will give you increased range of motion in our shoulders, while also warming you up for whatever activities may follow.
How-to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms out to your sides at shoulder height, palms facing down. With your elbows extended, slowly begin circling both arms forward simultaneously, starting with a small range of motion (small circles) and gradually making larger circles. Once you complete circling your arms forward, switch directions, making small circles with your arms first and increasing the size of the circles backward to the starting position. Complete 10 repetitions per side, 5 in each direction.
Hinge and Reach
This stretch is an ideal warm-up move for a wide variety of everyday tasks and recreational activities, including sports like softball and tennis that involve swinging and throwing movements.
How-to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms relaxed alongside your body, and palms facing each other. Keeping a soft bend in your knees and maintaining an elongated spine, hinge at the hips, pressing your glutes back while stretching your arms in front of you at shoulder height, palms still facing each other. Thrust your hips slightly forward and return to a standing positon while simultaneously swinging your arms slightly back behind the body. Repeat 10 times.
Try this stretch to warm up your lower body, ideally before tackling everyday activities or engaging in high-intensity workouts such as running, hiking, or cycling.
How-to: Stand with your feet slightly parted and your hands resting on your hips. Shift your weight to your left foot, bending your right knee slightly while lifting your right heel. Keeping your right knee softly bent, actively swing your right leg forward and backward, allowing your right knee to naturally bend and extend throughout the movement, all while keeping your back straight. Continue this movement for 10 repetitions, then repeat on the other side.
This stretch targets your hip’s deep muscles and is a great prep for activities that require quick changes in speed and direction, like tennis and dancing. For even more hip-opening, try these 12 yoga poses.
How-to: Stand facing a wall, doorframe, or the back of a sturdy chair. Fully extend your arms and place both hands on the wall or chair. Shift your weight to your left foot. Bend your right knee slightly while lifting your right heel, keeping your toes on the floor. With your right knee bent, trace a figure 8 pattern on the floor with your toes, extending your right hip and knee and then bringing them in closer to you in a fluid motion. Continue this movement for 8 repetitions, then repeat on the other side.