Getting your body moving through space is the simplest form of exercise. However, if you’re struggling with joint pain, moving can be very difficult. Finding exercises that you can do on land or in the water may take some searching, but the resulting strength will be well worth your efforts.
To get your body moving effectively through space and build bone strength, a daily walk is an excellent start. You may need to start slowly and work through some foot-rolling exercises, landing on your heel and rolling up off the toes, in the early steps of your walk.
Consider timing your walk. Use your phone or watch and set a timer for five minutes. During these first five minutes, walk slowly and focus on fully flexing your feet and ankles by the rolling exercise above. For the next ten minutes, focus on tightening and releasing the muscles in your calves, thighs, and buttocks on every other step. For the next ten minutes, get your arms moving and up your speed. Finally, cool down with a slower gait and shorter stride for five minutes. You can warm up your hips, knees, and ankles with this exercise so you can stretch fully when you get home.
Plank poses are the forerunners to a strong pushup. As you develop the ability to hold a good strong plank pose, you can strengthen your core, hips, knees, and shoulders over time.
To start, Lie on your stomach and raise your upper body to rest on your elbows so they’re directly under your shoulders. Straighten your body from shoulders to knees so you’re flat as a plank. If you feel any pressure on your low back, widen your knees, raise your bottom a bit, and then slowly lower your bottom until you’re as flat as you can tolerate. As you build strength, you should be able to lower your bottom and bring your knees closer together.
Getting in the water for any exercise that requires impact or flexibility is an excellent choice for anyone with arthritis. If you’re feeling a bit locked in place, a warm pool will be more comfortable than a cool water lap pool.
In the event that you’re avoiding exercise altogether because your pain level is just too high, consider different therapies such as homeopathic treatment for arthritis to help you break away from being stuck in place, at least until you can loosen up a bit.
If weight-bearing exercise is just too uncomfortable, there are floating exercises and stretches you can do in warm water to help you relax. Allow yourself to lay back in the water. Try to keep your knees and face out of the water for the first exercise, laying on your back in the water and holding your hands over your tummy with elbows out for stability.
From this position, pull your belly button in tight and hold it for ten seconds, then release it. Do this five times, then stand along the pool edge and walk slowly up and down until the water level moves from your waist to your armpits. Use a rolling foot action to stretch and strengthen your feet and ankles. Once against the wall, stretch your quads and hamstrings. Move to shallower water and open your feet against the wall to stretch your hips and inner thighs. Once you’re in the water and your weight is off your joints, you’ll find many ways to loosen and strengthen your joints.
Slow exercise programs such as Tai Chi and gentle yoga can be highly effective at building joint strength. First of all, they are slow, so you’re unlikely to injure yourself with a sudden or big movement. Secondly, they allow you to center your mind as you move your body. Finally, these exercises are all based on a healthy stance and a strong core.
If your core muscles are firmly flexed, your spine is well-supported and your hips are likely properly aligned, reducing the risk of a fall or misstep. Drawing in the tummy and holding it tight should be one of the first steps in any exercise routine.
Building healthy bones and strong, flexible joints is a daily routine. For those who struggle with arthritis pain, time in the water can help. Planks and other forms of mat work can also reduce the risk of joint weakness.