Stretches to Keep You Moving
Learn easy tips to keep your joints active when arthritis strikes.
Exercise is one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for arthritis. Simple stretches can help improve your range of motion and ease the symptoms of arthritis. Learn helpful stretches to do at home to work your major joints, including the neck, back, hips, knees, and more.
While these doctor-reviewed exercises are intended to get you moving in 10 days, don’t be afraid to start slow. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine to be certain you’re staying within your abilities.
Protect Your Neck
Rolling your head around in large circles helps loosen the muscles and relieves stress. Holding your head to one side for five seconds helps loosen the long muscles on the sides of your neck that can tighten easily.
Advanced: Sit on your right hand with the palm up. Slowly tilt your head to the left. Count to five before releasing. Switch arms and repeat.
Shrug Your Shoulders
Simply shrugging your shoulders can help keep them loose. Do it 20 times to see how it feels. Afterwards, reach for the skies and stretch your arms as high up as you can comfortably go.
Advanced: Raise one arm above your head, bending your elbow so your hand is behind your head. Using your other hand, gently pull your elbow away from your shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds before switching arms.
Hands & Wrists
Gently rolling your hands around in circles keeps wrists limber. For your fingers, make a fist for two seconds and then stretch your fingers far and wide for four seconds. Repeat as often as you need.
Advanced: Facing a wall, rotate your arms upside down and gently press your palms against the wall. Start low on the wall. The higher your hands are, the harder it gets, so go as high as you feel comfortable.
Care for Your Back
The back can be a troublesome area, so make sure to be gentle with it. Moving your upper half in slow, fluid movements stretches the back. Try side bends and hula-like movements for warming up. Trying to touch your toes also helps.
Advanced: Stand about two feet away from a wall, facing the opposite direction. Turning in either direction, attempt to touch the wall. Try it with your hands at shoulder height and then closer to your waist.
Helping Your Hips
The hips are another common problem area for people with arthritis. To get started, sit in a chair with your back straight. Holding onto the seat, lift each leg like you’re walking. The higher you can raise your leg, the deeper the stretch will be.
Advanced: Get on your hands and knees on a mat or comfortable carpet. Extend one leg up and out behind you and hold it in that position for five seconds. Repeat five times with each leg.
Restoring Your Knees
Aching knees can make standing difficult. You can warm up your knees just by extending one leg out at a time. Another simple exercise while sitting involves bending your knee at 90 degress and pulling it closer to you with your arms.
Advanced: Roll up a hand towel to the size of a submarine sandwich. With the towel secured in the crook of your bent knee, slowly squat down and hold for 10 seconds.
Calves, Ankles & Feet
Pain-free ankles and feet are vital to staying mobile. Rotating your feet in circles can help lessen aches. Next time you sit down, try rocking your feet back and forth—lifting up the toes and then rolling them forward so your heels pick up.
Advanced: At the bottom of a set of stairs with a firm grip on a railing, stand toward the stairs with your heels hanging over the edge of the first step. Slowly lower your heels down and back up again.
The Better It Gets
Doing these exercises several times a day can help get movement back into your major joints. When you’re ready, graduate to evening walks or laps in the pool. Just be careful not to overwhelm yourself. Remember: it’s better to go slow than do too much too soon.
Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about which stretches they recommend and what you’re physically ready for. The more active you are, the better your arthritis will feel.