July 11, 2011

USA: What exercises can I do to alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis?

TORONTO, Ontario / The Globe and Mail / Life / Health & Fitness / July 10, 2011

What exercises can I do to alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis?

By Kathleen Trotter


I have osteoarthritis. I am stiff and sore in the mornings, especially my feet. Can you suggest a couple of exercises I can do before I get up, to help alleviate some of the pain?

A few simple exercises can help with the pain of osteoarthritis


I encourage all my clients living with osteoarthritis to perform gentle range-of-motion exercises before they get out of bed. When done right, these exercises help minimize pain by stimulating the production of your body's natural joint lubricant: synovial fluid. With osteoarthritis, the cushion-like cartilage between the bones has been worn away, so the joints can benefit from extra lubrication.

Try these exercises sitting on the side of your bed.

Toe spreading: Start with your toes together. Then try to spread your toes wide. Attempt to spread all five toes equally. Some toes will likely move more easily than others. If this is the case, spread the less mobile toes wide with your fingers, then let go and let them return to their starting position. This will help your brain learn how to do the motion without assistance. 

Video Tone flabby arms with an overhead tricep extension

Big toe lifts: Keep your four other toes still and raise your big toe 10 times.

Video: Release back tension with crossed leg stretch

Toe lifts: Keep your big toe stable and raise your other four toes 10 times.
Ankle circles: Rotate your foot at your ankle joint five times clockwise and five times counterclockwise

Video Target the triceps with shoulder presses

Trainer’s Tip

If you have osteoarthritis, do exercises that promote motion in your joints to stimulate synovial fluid, but only work in a range that is pain-free.

Trainer’s tip

It’s important to have great posture so you can show off your hard-earned, toned arms. To work on posture, try this “W,Y” exercise: Stand with your back and hips against a wall with your arms up so they form a “W”. Your palms should be facing away from the wall. To perform the exercise, slide your hands up the wall so your arms form a “Y” above your head. Attempt to keep your wrists, elbows, hips and shoulder against the wall as your arms move, and don't let your back arch. Engage your shoulder blades to bring your arms back to the “W” formation. Do 10 reps.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com

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