Having arthritis can often feel like you need a shoulder to lean on, especially if it’s your shoulder that hurts.
Each shoulder contains a joint supported by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, including those in your shoulder, as well as a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions your bones. This causes the characteristic pain and stiffness of arthritis.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis. The three main types are osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Each type develops differently, and all require different medical treatment. However, certain workouts can help relieve arthritis symptoms.
Following are some tips for exercising when you have arthritis in your shoulders.
Cycling is one of the most effective ways to exercise with arthritis shoulder pain. If you ride your bike outdoors or use a stationary bike inside, make sure the handlebars are at an appropriate level. If they’re too low, you’ll end up putting more strain on already-stiff shoulder joints.
Try a recumbent bike without handlebars for indoor cycling. This places more focus on your legs and core. Hybrid bicycles tend to be the best options for outdoors. That’s because of the higher handlebar placement and upright sitting position.
Very few people have the space or money to invest in elaborate gym equipment. A gym membership is the perfect alternative. At the gym, take advantage of the cardio machines. They can help you to:
- condition your body
- promote healthy posture
- take pressure off your shoulder joints
Consider using the following machines:
Pushups are considered one of the best all-around exercises. They work muscles in your upper body and core while increasing your metabolic rate. You can still do pushups with shoulder arthritis, but you’ll need to make some modifications.
Instead of pushing away the floor, consider wall pushups. This method can ensure better alignment and less shoulder strain. Perform a few reps a day. Only increase the duration if you don’t experience any pain. You shouldn’t have pain at any time while doing pushups.
Yoga is known for building strength and flexibility. It also incorporates breathing exercises for refined movement. This type of workout is effective for shoulder arthritis. It strengthens both the upper and lower body without the high impact of some other workouts.
Talk with your instructor about modifying some yoga positions for your condition. Avoid poses that will add extra strain to the shoulders or cause any additional shoulder pain. But also don’t limit exercise possibilities. If you can do Downward-Facing Dog without pain, then it’s a good exercise to do.
You may walk to burn off fat or some steam. But regular walking may even help you burn off shoulder pain. This low-impact workout is most effective when you stand up tall with your shoulders back.
A daily walk can improve your mood and can keep your weight in check. It may also help decrease swelling and stiffness in your joints.
Strength training plays a key role in increasing muscle mass and bone density. If you have arthritis in your shoulder, you may believe that you can’t lift weights anymore. But that isn’t entirely true.
The key is to focus on exercises that don’t require raising weights above your shoulders or cause any additional pain. Pay attention to any pain. It’s the signal that your joints are becoming more inflamed or irritated.
Traditional bicep curls, bench presses, rowing, and pectoral chest flies are all appropriate. The American College of Rheumatology recommends 8 to 10 reps of each strength-training exercise, up to three times per week.
Exercising to relieve shoulder arthritis requires a high level of commitment. Having a support system is critical. Invite your family members to exercise with you, or enlist the help of friends for extra motivation and encouragement.
Don’t forget to discuss your exercise plans with your doctor and physical therapist first. They’ll make sure your workouts are safe and can give you some extra tips for success.
While you shouldn’t perform exercises that increase your pain, don’t entirely avoid working out either.