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Useful Bursitis Exercises

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 8/24/2010

Bursitis exercises can be used to treat joint pain and flexibility of the shoulders and hips. Learn how exercise can improve one's bursitis condition.

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    What is Bursitis?

    Bursitis is a condition that causes inflammation of a bursa. A bursa functions as a gliding surface between the tissues of the body. It is a tiny fluid-filled sac that helps reduce friction. There are 160 bursae (plural for bursa) in the body. Bursitis can be caused from injury, infection, or a rheumatic condition. It can also be triggered by repetitive movement or by wearing the wrong footwear.

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    How Exercise Can Help

    Bursitis exercises can be used to treat the condition. Regular exercising that involves moderate body movements and stretching of the joints will help increase flexibility. Using these simple exercises and stretches can be a useful part of any treatment protocol. Doing these exercises consistently over time can help improve one’s bursitis condition.

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    Exercises for the Hips

    The following exercises helps with bursitis of the hips. The first exercise targets the piriformis muscle which helps with movements of the hips. Both exercises will provide relief for patients with trochanteric bursitis.

    Exercise 1

    While lying on your back, rest the feet on the floor with the knees bent. Raise the injured leg and rest it over the opposite leg, as if you were crossing your legs while sitting in a chair. Grasp the uninjured leg just below the knee with both hands and pull the knee towards the chest, gently. Count to 15 and release. Repeat this exercise two to three times then move on to the next exercise.

    Exercise 2

    Lie on your back while keeping your legs straight. Tighten the upper thigh muscles of the injured leg. Raise the leg, without bending, straight up to about 6 to 8 inches above the ground. Do not release the thigh muscles during the leg raise. Bring your leg back to the resting position. Repeat for three sets of 10 leg raises.

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    Exercises for the Shoulders

    The following bursitis exercises for the shoulder can help with range of motion and muscle movement when done on a regular basis.

    Exercise 1

    In a standing position, pull both of your shoulders up as if you were shrugging. Hold the shoulders in this position for 5 counts. Try and squeeze both shoulder blades together and hold for 5 counts. Now, pull both shoulder blades down, like you were reaching into your back pocket. Release and relax. Repeat the entire workout 5 times. Over time, increase the exercise to 10 times.

    Exercise 2

    Stand with your arms at your sides, with your elbows straight. Slowly raise your arms to eye level. As you raise your arms, they should be spread apart so that they are only slightly in front of your body (at about a 30 degree angle to the front of your body). Point your thumbs toward the ceiling. Hold for 2 seconds and lower your arms slowly. Do 3 sets of 10. Hold a soup can or light weight when doing the exercise and increase the weight as the exercise gets easier.

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    References

    Mayo Clinic: Bursitis - www.mayoclinic.com/health/bursitis/DS00032

    University of Michigan Health System: Trochanteric Bursitis Rehabilitation Exercises - www.med.umich.edu/1libr/sma/sma_trochant_rex.htm