Fitness Articles

Managing Arthritis with Exercise

Pain, Pain, Go Away

Page 2 of 2

Things to remember while exercising:
  • Move your joints daily to prevent stiffness and loss of joint movement.
  • Exercises should be done on a regular basis. You should try to do them on good days and bad days, although you may have to modify the program if you are having more pain than usual.
  • An inflamed joint should only be moved gently through its range of motion.
  • It is important to listen to your body and not overdo it. If an exercise hurts, stop! Pain (other than normal arthritis discomfort) is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If you get tired, rest! Wait a few minutes, then continue when you are ready.
  • Always begin a session with some slow warm-up exercises to reduce stress on the joints.
  • You should attempt to achieve a full range of motion by moving until you feel a slight stretch. Do not force the motion, going only as far as you feel comfortable.
  • Move at your own pace, performing exercises in a slow and steady motion.
  • Strength training can be done with small free weights, exercise machines, isometrics, elastic bands, and resistive water exercises. Correct positioning is critical, because if done incorrectly, strengthening exercises can cause muscle tears, more pain, and more joint swelling.
  • Most experts agree that if exercise causes pain that lasts for more than 1 hour, it is too much.
Other ways to protect your joints:
  • Avoid keeping your joints in the same position for long periods of time. To reduce stiffness, avoid prolonged sitting and get up and walk around every hour or so.
  • The strongest or largest joints and muscles should be used instead of the weakest ones, and weight should be distributed over several joints. For example, push open a heavy door with the side of your arm, not with your hand and outstretched arm. Carry a heavy bag or purse over your shoulder instead of holding it by the fingers.
  • Maintain good posture and body mechanics, keeping joints in their most stable and functional position. Bad posture can lead to possible deformities and increased pain.
  • Use a straight-back chair with a firm seat when sitting. When rising from a chair, use the muscles of the legs while also pushing off of the arms of the chair with palms or forearms (not fingers).
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have Ra and lupus are there exercies that can be done. - 10/29/2015 6:34:49 PM
    I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and was put on the drug femara. It has caused severe bone and joint pain and a lot of mornings it's quite difficult to get out of bed. My son who works out everyday told me that I would feel better if I could get into exercising. This article convinced me! Thanks! - 11/20/2014 11:54:39 AM
  • The reason that I finally put myself on an exercise plan was because I hurt all over. I have arthritis in most joints and my back, tendonitis in wrists, elbow & foot, plantar faciitis & heel spurs, bulging discs, chondromalacia patella etc etc etc. Of course I still have issues but they are much more manageable and I am able to do much more (including walking) with much less pain. - 2/2/2014 8:47:29 AM
  • Thanks for sharing - 1/8/2014 5:59:23 AM
  • ok I have really a question more than a comment. Does anyone know if you can do the floor exercises on a regular bed or do you have to have a hard surface? - 7/29/2013 3:13:23 PM
    I know I have to move to help with my arthrist but some days the pain is so intense but these are the days I make myself move. I try to break my workouts up with swimming some times during the week if I can. But pain is pain it does not go away. - 6/11/2013 2:19:33 AM
  • OK, I finally understand I need to move more in spite of the pain. Spark impresses me with the number of people working thru pain. Feel less alone with my misery, and much more optimistic. THANKS - 5/31/2013 1:04:15 PM
  • This is a wonderful article with sound advice. I was pleased to have it confirmed that I was doing things right. After surgery and therapy for osteoarthritis in my shoulder, along with many complications during the surgery, I found a stretch and tone class that featured all the exercises I had been given in therapy for the shoulder replacement as well as a knee replacement and it has made all the difference. Years ago I had also had back surgery, after suffering a shattered vertebra in a fall from a horse. Three fused vertebra and two stainless steel rods in my back. At that time I wasn't given any therapy. Nearly 30 yrs ago. But since starting the exercise program three days a week, for the last 6 months, I am so pleased to report, there has been an amazing improvement in what I can do. Even getting up and down off the floor after not being able to for years! I also have nearly a full range of motion with my shoulder. My surgeon was surprised at my range of motion. He had warned me, I probably wouldn't come all the way back with range of motion, but at least the shoulder pain would be gone. Well with Gods help and a lot of work I have come back and life is good! - 5/21/2013 9:58:03 PM
  • I really liked that this article made no reference/assumpt
    ions on age. I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 16 and getting active in the last few years has really made a huge difference with my pain management. So many people assume that arthritis is a condition only older adults can have so I appreciate the author refraining from that. - 10/1/2012 7:18:01 PM
  • Sound advice for me, especially because I am elderly. I have always wondered about what inflamed joints feel like. How can you tell (since we do not have x-ray vision) that it is inflammation that is going on? I have wondered about this so long I hope someone who can answer this will message me. I feel sore and stiff for a few days after an exercise session; wonder if that is inflammation or totally something else. - 10/1/2012 7:37:19 AM
  • Loved this,because I have arthritis and neuropathy. I don't just get stiff I go numb. This has kept me from walking and exercising for years, but I have started walking I do feel allot better, - 9/6/2012 3:37:59 PM
  • Thank you for the article and the comments. No one battles this alone. We can do it though usin these wonderful tips and using caring doctors when needed. - 2/2/2011 8:48:00 AM
  • Arthritis is an unpleasant way of life for me, with several orthopedic and neurologic surgeries under my belt to remedy things. I am going to a warm pool for physical therapy and am about to take it on on my own. I know of nothing that lets me move and exercise more freely than being in the water. If that is available, I would recommend it hands down to anyone dealing with artritis pain. There are ways to include and add resistance to your movement and do strength and endurance building that make this the most productive exercise time I spend. - 3/13/2010 3:21:37 PM
  • When I started SP 5 months ago, my knee was weak from surgery six years earlier and my hips hurt from arthritis. I tried to walk and to ride the recumbent bike, but after 15 minutes I just couldn't take it. But I'm a stubborn old Irish woman and I just persisted and today I can walk for 45 minutes and ride the bike for 40 minutes, both on the same day. I feel I am a prime example of what an older woman can accomplish if she just keeps at it.. Thanks goes to SP (and my husband) for their motivation. - 9/25/2008 4:38:06 PM
    Great article with some tips I can use at the office before Ole Art starts attacking. - 9/25/2008 2:40:00 PM

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