Is Arthritis Getting You Down? Read Time: 4 minutes
Over 50 million Americans young and old, suffer from a form of arthritis. The pain can be sometimes debilitating. Joints simply refuse to respond properly. But there are ways to reclaim mobility and reduce pain. Starting with a good stretch.
The effectiveness of a good stretch
Arthritis sufferers often decide to limit movement to limit pain. However, getting a move on is the best way to combat pain. Stretching does more than improve mobility. Consistent stretching gives back range of motion in the synovial joints. Stretching even transforms mood. Plagued with pain? Then try the four stretches below.
1. Calf stretch with band
The purpose of the stretch is to target the calf muscle and to a minor extent, the knee. An exercise band or light resistance band works best. If the equipment isn’t within reach, use a towel.
How to do the calf stretch
First, lay flat on the floor or mat, one leg extended and the next bent. Loop the band or towel around the ball of the extended foot. Holding each side of the band or towel, gently pull towards the chest. Feel the stretch in the calf muscle? Now hold for 30 seconds on each leg for 3 sets.
2. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch/Lunge
With arthritis, the hips, knees and even hamstrings are problematic. A kneeling lunge loosens up the hamstring and opens the hips. Use proper form to avoid injury.
Doing the Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
To start, kneel on a comfortable mat on the floor. Step the right foot forward with the knee bent, similar to performing a lunge. Make sure the knee is at a 90-degree angle. Press both hands into the right thigh, shifting the upper body forward. The stretch stimulates the hips and hamstring. Hold the position for 30 seconds and then change legs. Three times per leg is enough to get the hips, knees, and hamstring ready to go.
3. Arm Circles
The shoulders, elbows, and hands need stretching too! Arm circles loosen up the elbows and shoulders. To do arm circles, stand up tall with feet hip-width apart. Extend the arms out wide, palms facing down. Start making small circles in the air in a clockwise motion for 15 seconds. Then go 15 seconds in the opposite direction. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 30 seconds.
4. Knee to Chest
The knee to chest stretch opens up the lower back, butt, and knees. Lying on the back with knees bent, bring one knee up towards the torso. Pull the knee closer until there is a pull. The stretch can be done in several ways. For example, extend one leg while bringing the next leg to the chest. Or bring both knees to the chest simultaneously.
Important stretching tips for success
When stretching with arthritis, take a few minutes to warm up. A warm-up could mean a brisk walk around the room or house. Also, complete stretching in moderation. Over-training can bring more harm than good. Finally, stretch daily, choosing the time of day with the least arthritic pain.
Change the body with stretching today
Doctors often recommend stretching and exercise to help patients manage arthritis. Integrate the four techniques into a daily routine. Arthritis patients can also seek help from a physical therapist for a personalized plan. Don’t be afraid to stretch!