We all know that exercising is good for our body in general. However, aside from the usual “I’m too busy to workout” and “I don’t like the gym” excuses, other people actually find it hard to work out because the simple act of moving hurts them. This is usually the case of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The last thing you probably wanna do when you’re hurt somewhere is moving it even more.
So how do you exercise if you’re in pain somewhere? Well, you look for a type of workout that is easy on your joints! Here are some of them that you can try:
Stretches are great because they don’t involve impact that people with rheumatoid arthritis usually can handle but still allows you to work your muscles. Aside from that, stretching helps ease joint stiffness and widen your range of motion.
- Leg/Hamstring Stretch
Start with a standing position with your feet and legs close together. Then start leaning forward in a slow and controlled movement to reach your toes. Keep a little bend on your knees and hold this position for 10-20 seconds.
- Finger/Wrist Stretch
Bend your fingers forward, then backward, holding each stretch for 10–20 seconds each time. Then do the same with your hand to stretch your wrist muscles.
- Cross-Body Arm Stretch
Put your arm across the front of your body and gently pin that arm against your body with your opposite hand for 10-20 seconds. Switch to the other arm after that.
- Neck Stretches
Drop your head forward gently and then slowly make a circle by rolling it towards one shoulder and back to the other.
Yoga is a popular form of exercise because it doesn’t just benefit the body but as well as the mind and soul. So if you have rheumatoid arthritis, yoga can not only make a big difference in joint tenderness and swelling but it promotes relaxation and stress reduction too.
To do this, you have to lie on your stomach. Slide your hands beneath your shoulders and extend your arms to lift your upper body, but make sure your pelvis and legs stays on the ground. Focus on pulling your shoulders down and away from your ears as well as on relaxing your lower back and buttocks. Hold for 15-30 seconds before you slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Do this for 3 times.
- Extended Leg Balance
Do this by standing on one foot while slowly lifting your other leg forward. Use a chair or stand near a wall for support if your need to. If you want a better stretch, slowly rotate your leg out to the side, hold, and then switch to the other leg.
- Seated Spinal Twist
Sit up tall in a chair and put your hand on the outside of the opposite thigh. Gently twist in the direction of your arm and hold. Then, switch to the other side.
Since you avoid a lot of extreme daily activities because of RA, your muscle mass tend to decrease. So to avoid that and have a strong support for your bones and joints, working out your muscles is important. Just make sure to talk to your doctor before you start any kind of strength training.
- Abdominal Contractions
First, lie on your back with knees bent. Knees and feet should be shoulder width apart. Draw your belly button toward your spine while maintaining a neutral spine. Upon exhalation, reach toward the ceiling as if trying to grab a trapeze overhead. Then raise your head and shoulders off the floor, just to the point where your shoulder blades are barely touching the floor, and hold 1-2 seconds. Inhale upon return and repeat at the end of the next exhalation. Hold it for 1-2 seconds and continue doing it until you can’t anymore.
- Bicep Lifts
This is basically just a typical bicep curl. But you only need light weights, if you don’t have dumbbells at home water bottles filled with water or sand works too. While you sit in a chair with your arms resting on your thighs palms up, hold light weights in your hands. Then, raise them toward your shoulders, bending at the elbow.
- Seated Knee Lift
This is better with a resistance band over your legs in a seated position. All you have to do is raise one leg slowly and then switch to the other leg.
EXERCISE FOR ENDURANCE
Your heart is a muscle too so it needs to be just as strong as the rest of your body. Aerobic exercises are great for that since it gets your blood pumping but they’re easy on your joints.
Doing 20-minute daily walks are great. It gets you breathing and heart rate up but they won’t hurt your knees like jogging does. Start slow and short distance if you’re new to regular exercises. Then as you get better you can walk faster and longer. Just make sure you stretch before and after and don’t forget to hydrate properly.
Another endurance workout that doesn’t hurt the knees is cycling. If you’re not used to it, stationary bikes would be better plus it eliminated risk of falling. Start slow too if you’re a beginner and work your way up as you go.
Water workouts are great when you have RA. They take weight off your joints. They also raise your heart rate. Water also acts as resistance against your muscles. That can make you stronger.