Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is a protracted inflammatory disorder that can affect the lining of your joints, leading to an excruciatingly painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. Exercise can be beneficial for relieving arthritis pain and joint stiffness.
Regular exercise for people with RA can help reduce painful symptoms, improve joint function, increase range of motion, and lift mood.
Top 7 exercises for RA pain
The following types of exercise may help relieve the pain, joint stiffness, and other symptoms that RA can cause:
Most people with RA experience great relieve after undergoing series of stretches. Daily stretching especially in the morning can help reduce stiffness, improve flexibility, and increase range of motion.
Stretching will be different for each person and will depend on the affected joint. However, stretches often involve slowly and gently moving the joints of the knees, hands, and elbows.
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A typical stretching routine may consist of:
- Warming up by walking in place or pumping the arms while sitting or standing for 3–5 minutes.
- Holding each stretch for 10–20 seconds before releasing it.
- Repeating each stretch 2–3 times.
- Using yoga may help people maintain proper form while stretching.
Water exercises like swimming, water aerobics and others can enhance range of motion, flexibility, and strength. Water exercises can also reduce joint stress and stiffness because they do not impact heavily on joints.
Strength training helps to strengthen the muscles around the affected joints while reducing pain and other RA symptoms. This can best be achieved by using a resistance band with the help of a therapist for people with RA.
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Walking can help with heart health, aerobic conditioning, and joint health. It is essential to wear comfortable shoes and drink lots of water, even if the walking is not strenuous. It is often sensible to walk slowly initially and then gradually increase the pace.
Cycling can help increase range of motion, reduce stiffness, and increase leg strength. It is advisable to keep the heart healthy because RA increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Riding a stationary bike can be a safe way to get the joints moving and improve cardiovascular health.
Tai chi and yoga
Tai chi and yoga involves gentle poses, flowing movements, deep breathing, and meditation. They increase balance, flexibility, and range of motion.
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Pilates is a low-impact exercise that stabilizes the joints and fortifies the muscles around them. People new to Pilates should begin with a routine that uses a mat rather than a machine to build muscle strength safely.
Exercises to avoid
It is best for people with rheumatoid arthritis to avoid vigorous excessive that mounts strain on the joints. Though some exercises that causes pain for one person may not have the same effect on another person. So, people with RA should pay close attention to their body and exercise with a doctor or physical therapist.
Image source: Arthritis.org
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