Simple home exercises to ease the pain of arthritis in older adults

Arthritis pain and stiffness in older adults can cause a loss of mobility, which often leads to a loss of independence—and the ability to participate in the community, go shopping and drive.

But there’s hope.

An exercise routine focused on stretching, moving and strengthening muscles can help ease arthritis pain and stiffness naturally, by releasing synovial fluid in the body that lubricates and nourishes joints—making it much easier and less painful to move, and go about daily activities, according to to Latika Thakur, DPT, MS, PT, a therapist with Luna, an in-home physical therapy provider.

For those older adults who want to relieve arthritis pain without leaving the house, Thakur recommends some basic exercises – focused on improving balance and preventing falls – that anyone can do at home without the aid of a physical therapist.

Quadricep exercises

While sitting on the couch watching TV or relaxing in a chair, place a rolled-up towel or small cushion under your kneecap, and gently press on your kneecap and hold it for five seconds. Do three sets of 10 repetitions each, twice a day . This exercise strengthens the muscles around the knee and gives better support to the joints, making it more stable, Thakur said, so there’s less impact on the bones.

Glute sets

Tighten your buttock muscles, hold for five seconds and release. Do three sets of 10 repetitions each, twice a day. This helps with walking, Thakur explained, and walking is very important for independence.

Walking

When older adults walk, there’s mobility of the cartilage (cushion between joints). Imagine the cartilage is like a sponge, Thakur said. When you squeeze the sponge (joint), synovial fluid releases, nourishing and lubricating it—acting as a natural pain reliever. Do laps around the house for 20 to 30 minutes each day.

Marching in place

Patients have less balance with age, and marching in place improves balance. Do three sets of 10 repetitions each, and hold for five seconds, twice a day.

Dancing while sitting

Dancing helps patients build muscles in the lower extremities – quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and back – and gives them the ability to walk with less impact on their joints. Dance while seated for 15 to 20 minutes, with sufficient breaks depending on pain and endurance.

Chair yoga

Follow along with a chair yoga video. Participate for 15 to 20 minutes a day, with sufficient breaks depending on pain and endurance.

Thakur always tells patients, “It’s a war against pain, and we are all soldiers. So we have to keep marching on.”

Don’t wait. Start moving today and relieve pain naturally.

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