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Physical Therapy Exercises to Ease Arthritis Pain

written by: Kumara Velu • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 9/25/2010

Many arthritis patients think arthritis and exercise make strange bed partners. The belief is exercise aggravates an arthritic condition. Recent research has, however, shown that physical therapy for arthritis actually benefits patients and should be included as part of the pain management program.

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    Exercise Benefits

    According to the Arthritis Foundation, moderate exercise carried out regularly offers many plentiful benefits to arthritis patients.

    How does exercise benefit arthritis patients? First, it alleviates joint pain and stiffness. It helps to build strong muscles around the joints. Over time, exercise also helps with flexibility of movement and endurance.

    Cases of arthritis patients who resorted to exercise as part of a pain management program show that exercise actually reduces inflammation of the joints. Patients also reported improved general health, accompanied by an energy boost and the ability to sleep better. Weight control and good mental health are other benefits they enjoyed.

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    Professional Help

    Before you undertake any physical therapy for arthritis, it would be wise to consult your doctor. If the doctor gives you the green light, seek the help of a physical therapist who will show you how to use proper exercise techniques that would not be detrimental to your joints.

    If you’re going it on your own after consulting the doctor, you should start slow and make the exercise as much fun as possible. For instance, you could get a partner, preferably someone with the same problem, to exercise with you so that it would not be a lonely pursuit.

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    Recommended Exercises

    Walking

    Walking is the safest form of exercise for arthritis patients. It helps reduce stiffness, inflammation of joints, and helps with proper weight maintenance, which in turn reduces strain on your joints. You don’t need an instructor, because walking is the most natural form of exercise any person can undertake.

    Walking from 30 to 60 minutes a day helps make your bones stronger and keeps the heart healthy.

    Stretching

    If you’re wondering what exercise you could complement walking with, stretching is a good place to start. Stretching improves your mobility and equips you to carry out your daily activities better. You could use these videos from Arthritis Today to get started or to give you some ideas. Working with an instructor is also encouraged.

    Water Exercise

    If pain is the main problem preventing you from starting an exercise program, give water exercise a try. Your body‘s buoyancy in water does not put an undue strain on your hips, knees, and spine.

    A simple physical therapy for arthritis to start with is water walking. Water has about 12 times the resistance of air. The more you walk in water, the more you strengthen and build your muscles. You can start off walking in the shallowest end of a swimming pool. You can move to a deeper area with the help of a floatation belt. Remember, the deeper the water, the more resistance you would face. When you have developed more strength and stamina, you could try swimming.

    Other Exercises

    Depending on your condition, preference, and the medical advice you have been given, you can try dancing, Tai Chi, Yoga, and stationary cycling among others. Work with a qualified instructor to prevent injuring yourself or aggravating your condition.

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    References

    http://www.arthritis.org/exercise-intro.php - benefits of physical therapy for arthritis patients

    http://www.arthritistoday.org/- physical exercises for arthritis patients