If you have joint pain due to arthritis, you may be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to relieve joint pain naturally is through exercise.
It’s normal to want pain relief right away. Although ice and anti-inflammatory medication can help, they can only offer temporary relief.
You may be tempted to avoid certain motions that seem to aggravate your joints. However, limiting your mobility can actually increase your joint pain since you are allowing your muscles to weaken. Weak muscles can further stress the joint, which may increase the chance that you will eventually need surgery.
Joint Pain Exercises Reduce Stiffness and Promote Weight Loss
Exercise can strengthen joints and reduce stiffness. That alone is reason enough to begin an exercise routine. But there’s another reason your painful joints will feel better when you exercise: it can help you lose weight, which will take pressure off your aching joints.
Lose just 10 pounds, and it will lift an equivalent 40 pounds of pressure off these weight-bearing joints.
Relieve Joint Pain by Walking
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person with arthritis should be moderately active for at least 150 minutes each week. The CDC suggests walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, dividing those walks into smaller 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
An easy way to get started — and to get support and encouragement — is to join Walk with Ease, a six-week walking program developed by the Arthritis Foundation. It can be done alone or with a group, and they even offer a free app for iPhone or Android to help you track your steps.
Joint Pain Exercises to Try at Home
In addition to walking and aerobic exercise, you should include range of motion and strengthening exercises in your routine. Here are examples of joint pain exercises you can try at home:
- SI Joint Pain Exercise: Lie on the floor. Then bend your knees, keeping your feet on the floor. Next, grasp a knee and slowly bring it towards your chest, going only as far as you can without feeling pain. Hold the position briefly, then return your foot to the floor.
- Knee Pain Exercise: Stand behind a chair, holding it. Lift your heel up as close to your rear as possible. Do several lifts, then switch to the other side.
- Hip Joint Pain Exercise: Stand holding a sturdy chair next to you. Lift one knee up to form a 90-degree angle at your hip; hold briefly, then lower your knee to its original position. Do several lifts, then switch to the other knee.
Visit the Arthritis Foundation for tips on how to start an exercise program that addresses your unique type of joint pain.
Relieve Joint Pain While Exercising with Others
If you prefer to exercise with others who have arthritis versus exercising by yourself at home, check out these programs:
- Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP): Exercising in the water puts minimal stress on your joints and is a great way to stay active. The Arthritis Foundation has developed a water exercise program for people with arthritis and other types of joint pain.
- Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP): AFEP is a group exercise program for people with joint pain. Classes usually meet twice per week.