24 Arthritis Exercises

Tuesday, August 15 2023

Don’t just stretch, make sure you lubricate your joints as well. Join me in the pool for a series of movements that promote healthy joints from the neck down to the ankles, with special emphasis on the hips and shoulders. Mobility exercises for healthy joints is just as important as stretching for muscular flexibility. Both can help you stay pain and injury free so that you can enjoy an active lifestyle

Joint Tune Up features 24 AEA Arthritis Foundation Exercises for all of the major joints of the body.  These exercises are designed to move a joint through its full range of motion (ROM). Failure to move a joint through its full ROM eventually leads to a loss in function that causes stiffness and pain as we try to perform daily activities associated with that joint. Simple tasks such as getting up and down, getting dressed, reaching for things, house cleaning, walking and more all become more difficult due to stiffness and eventually pain.    

The Importance of Joint Mobility
Joint mobility exercises aren’t just for people with arthritis, they are for people who want to keep their joints supple and healthy. The human body is largely made up of synovial joints, which are joints where the bones are connected.  Synovial fluid is found in the cavity of synovial joints. Exercise moves that synovial fluid around the joint cavity and keeps the joint supple. Lack of movement prevents that synovial fluid from dispersing and lubricating the joint.  Without movement and lubrication, the joint loses function over time and becomes stiffer and more prone to injury and inflammation.  Inflammation translates into pain. Movement attributed to our daily activities is not enough to move a joint through its full range of motion to maintain optimal elasticity. This is what well planned joint mobility exercises are designed to achieve. 

Joint Pain & Stiffness Causes
Genetics, obesity, diet, injury and lack of exercise can all contribute to joint pain and stiffness and the development of arthritis. As mentioned above, lack of movement and a sedentary lifestyle are the leading causes of stiff and painful joints as people age. Therefore, exercise is universally recommended as a form of movement medicine for people who suffer from arthritis or want to prevent it. However, injuries are another leading cause of joint pain and stiffness. It is common for arthritis to settle in after an injury, particularly in the hips, knees, shoulders or spine. This doesn’t have to happen. Joint mobility exercises for the affected joint can slow or even prevent the onset of arthritis.
Watch Mark talk more about his own experience with joint mobility exercises and the benefit of performing these exercises in the pool.



Why Water?
The exercises in the Joint Tune-up video can be done in a studio or in your living room, but you’ll want a wall or chair to hold on to for balance during the leg exercises. The ROM of some exercises may also have to be modified to accommodate gravity as opposed to buoyancy. Below are three reasons why performing joint mobility exercises in the pool can be beneficial. 

  • The viscosity of water provides a kind of support that holds you up. It is easier to balance on one leg when doing hip and knee exercises. People have more confidence to go deeper into exercises without the fear of falling. However, participants can hold onto a noodle or the pool wall for extra support. 
  • In addition to the supportive nature of the water’s viscosity, the water’s buoyant properties also encourage greater ROM. Arms can be held extended away from the body more easily thanks to the uplifting nature of buoyancy. When extending arms out on land, the effort may cause more fatigue or possibly pain due to the downward force of gravity. 
  • The viscous, resistive forces of the water can also help improve muscular endurance as the exercises are performed. In the video you will notice that I lower myself down to neck level to get the benefits of the water’s resistance on my cervical spine and shoulders.

Don’t let joint pain and stiffness impair your daily activities and quality of life. Whether you are currently dealing with symptoms or want to prevent them, try adding joint mobility exercises such as those in the video into your regular fitness routine. Moving your joints through a full range of motion is like medicine that will help you move better, feel better and live better.
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Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.