My husband has recently been diagnosed with arthritis – how can I encourage him to remain active when he’s in so much pain?
Research has found that exercise is one of the best ways to manage arthritis pain. Even though your partner may be reluctant to exercise, it’s an important part of their pain management regime and will help them maintain their range of motion.
Tips for Dealing with the Pain
When it comes to exercise, the saying “No pain, no gain,” need not apply. Exercise doesn’t have to be painful, even when you have arthritis. Gentle, slow exercise done after a proper warm-up period is ideal for anyone with arthritis. Of course, before your loved one starts exercising they should speak to their doctor.
A proper warm up before exercising is important for everyone, but especially for those with arthritis. It may also be helpful to grab a warm pack or warm cloth and place it wherever you suffer from arthritis for 20 minutes before you warm up prior to your exercise routine.
To limit arthritis pain after an exercise routine you can place a cool cloth or cold pack on your problematic joint(s) to help mitigate swelling.
Focus on Improving Range of Motion
The first type of exercises your loved one should try are range of motion exercises. These are simple motions meant to move the joint as much as possible to maintain and even improve movement.
For knees, a good range of motion exercise is the one leg dip. You stand next to a chair and place your hand on it for support. You raise one leg in front of you, and slowly bend the other. Be sure to keep your back straight. Slowly push back up, and do the other knee.
For back arthritis, the pelvic tilt is a good exercise. You lay down on your back with your knees bent and feet planted. Then, you push your stomach muscles in to straighten your back. Hold it for a bit, and then slowly relax.
For arthritis in the hands there are many range of motion exercises. One exercise that works the whole hand involves holding your hand out as if you are about to shake hands with someone. Then, you slowly move your hand into a fist, with the thumb on the outside. Don’t squeeze. Slowly move the hand back to handshake stance.
If your partner’s range of motion is very limited, it may be wise for them to start out with a physiotherapist who can tell them if they are pushing their joint too hard– or not hard enough.
Many people with arthritis stop performing aerobic exercise out of discomfort. However, cardio exercise is key to maintaining cardio-vascular health and avoiding weight gain, which can make arthritis much worse.
There are ways to practice low-impact aerobic exercises that put as little strain as possible on the effected joints. One very popular method is swimming. The water carries most of your weight so your joints experience very little stress. Cycling can also take pressure off some arthritic joints.
While we may not think of walking as exercise, it is, and it’s a great option for those with arthritis because it doesn’t involve pushing the joints too much. Start slowly if walking isn’t a part of your normal exercise routine.
While arthritic pain is often seen as a barrier to exercise, many people find that regular movement is one of the best ways to keep their arthritis under control. Give the team at Aging Life Network a call today for more advice for caring for someone with arthritis