Some exercises can ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in RA patients. But it’s difficult to find the time, energy, and motivation. This is true when you are in pain. However, Exercise can help increase your mood, enhance joint function, and deter muscle loss and weakness.
Here are 10 daily pain management exercises for RA patients.
1. Yoga Exercises
Yoga includes breathing and relaxation exercise, which helps to ease symptoms in RA patients. Studies to show that younger people with RA who practiced yoga experienced improvements. Scientists discovered comparable outcomes. RA patients had a fewer tender and swollen joint than they had before. Yoga or yoga stretching can help RA patients enhance flexibility and movement (2, 3).
2. Walking in the Park
It may sound too easy to walk in the park, but it is one of the simplest and most convenient types of exercise. Walking can loosen your joints and help reduce pain besides raising your heart rate. Research has found that you can also boost your mood by walking just 30 minutes a day. Try using walking poles to help stabilize if you have difficulty with balance. If you’ve been stuck in the climate, go to an indoor track or get on a treadmill (5).
3. Pilates Exercises
Pilates is a low-impact exercise that strengthens the joints and muscles around them. People new to Pilates should start with a routine that safely increases muscle power by using a mat rather than a machine.
4. Hydrotherapy (water exercise)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after engaging in hydrotherapy exercising in warm water, individuals with RA showed higher health improvements compared to other methods. Studies show that there was less pain and joint tenderness among RA patients who took part in hydrotherapy exercises. Hydrotherapy has also enhanced mood and well-being (6, 7).
5. Hand Exercises
RA will sometimes contribute to reduced hand use. Bending the wrists up and down, curling the fingers gradually, spreading the fingers wide across a table and gripping a stress ball will all help to improve strength and flexibility in the hands.
6. Biking Exercise
If you have RA, it’s important to pump your heart. This is because people with RA are at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, biking is an outstanding exercise with a low impact that is more manageable on the joints than other aerobic exercises. Biking helps keep the health of the cardiovascular and improves the power of the legs and decreases morning rigidity.
7. Tai Chi Exercise
Tai chi is a traditional Chinese martial art that combines mental focus with slow and gentle movements. This exercise enhances muscle function, stiffness, and decreases levels of pain in RA patients. After practicing tai chi, participants in one research reported feeling better (8).
8. Strength training
RA often lead to weakened muscles that may increase joint pain. Strength training enables you to reduce pain and boost muscle power. Stronger muscles support your joints in daily activities. At home, try lifting weights 3 times a week. As long as your fingers and wrists are in excellent form, you can also use strength bands.
9. Stretching Before and After Exercise
For RA patients, stretching exercises are often recommended by health practitioners. Stretching should include your arms, muscles, back, hips, front, and back of thighs, and calves. Do some stretches in the morning, take a stretch break instead of a coffee break, or perform stretching a few minutes in the office.
Gardening can provide many health benefits such as enhanced mood. You should be trained with your body and work slowly to avoid stress on muscles and joints.
Exercises To Avoid
RA patients should prevent hard or any pain-causing exercises. These may include high-impact exercises that place extreme stress on the joints. There are no particular exercises that should be avoided by everyone with RA, however, each individual is unique, and an activity that makes one person’s pain may not have the same impact on another.
What’s correct depends on the conditions. However, pay close attention to your body and taking advice from a doctor or physical therapist is always an excellent idea.
Adjust Symptom-Based Exercises
You can decrease the intensity of the exercise on days when symptoms are more severe. Alternatively, for a shorter time, you can try another sort of exercise. On days when cycling or swimming seems too much, you can switch to a slow walk or stretch.
These exercises are essential for RA patients. However, avoiding pain or injury is equally essential. It is best to decrease the session if exercise causes pain or a flare. Do 10 minutes instead of 30, for instance.
The Bottom Line
Exercises for RA patients are very helpful. It provides a variety of benefits including relieving symptoms, enhancing joint function, building strength, increasing flexibility, helping to work daily, and boosting mood. You’re likely to feel more pain in some days than others. That’s all right. Just exercise on those days with less intensity, try another kind of exercise, or take a day off.