Exercise Reduces Chronic Arthritis Pain
Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck are physical therapists who demonstrate how to do 2 stretches and 3 simple exercises that are effective at relieving arthritis pain in hips.
The 3 exercises work the hip muscles from three different directions, helping to strengthen and stabilize from all sides to reduce joint stress.
Watch the 8 minute video from the beginning or use our handy guide below to skip to specific exercises.
Important: These exercises shouldnt hurt. Its important for your older adult to listen to their body, avoid movements that cause pain, use good form, and only do as much as is comfortable.
The Best Exercises For Hip Arthritis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , arthritis affects 54 million Americans, up to 24 million of whom experience limited mobility and discomfort. If you are one of these people, the idea of doing physical activities may seem counterintuitive, especially when you have hip arthritis and youre in pain. However, did you know that a lack of exercise can actually exacerbate your condition?
Although it may seem painful and uncomfortable, exercise can provide you with relief in the long run. Regular exercise can help strengthen your muscles and make your hip joint more stable, which is why orthopedic specialists recommend it as a crucial part of hip arthritis treatment.
Here are the best exercises for hip arthritis that you should discuss with your bone and joint specialist. Make sure to start with very little intensity and increase it slowly.
Knee And Hip Exercises For Osteoarthritis
If you have osteoarthritis in your hips or knees, exercising may be the last thing you feel like doing. Symptoms like pain and stiffness in your joints can make it tough to work out.
But moving is important for hip and knee OA. It causes your joints to compress and release, bringing blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen into the cartilage. âThis can help prolong the function and longevity of your joints,â says Eric Robertson, DPT, a physical therapist and associate professor of clinical physical therapy at the University of Southern California.
Physical activity can also help you feel better. âAlong with boosting your overall health, exercise can improve your OA symptomsâ like pain, stiffness, fatigue, and even depression, says Leigh F. Callahan, PhD, associate director of the University of North Carolina Thurston Arthritis Research Center. One study found that people with knee OA who worked out regularly lowered their pain by 12% compared to those who didnât.
Ready to lace up your sneakers? No single workout is best. But some moves are better for hip and knee OA. Experts recommend doing a mix of the following three exercises. But first, remember to check in with your doctor before you start any new physical activity.
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Best Exercises For Hip Pain
A well-balanced exercise program for arthritic hip pain focuses on restoring and maintaining range of motion, strength, and overall hip function to provide pain relief, especially when combined with other home treatment options.
What you can specifically tolerate will depend on your hip symptoms and current activity level. Remember, you can always schedule a round of physical therapy if you need more guidance.
Range Of Motion Exercises
Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the hip are common as arthritis progresses making it feel difficult to complete normal daily activities like standing, squatting, and walking. Try these basic stretches to help maintain range of motion and hip function.
Hip Flexor Half-Kneeling Lunge Stretch
The hip flexors run across the front of the hip and pelvis, and often become stiff with wear of the arthritic hip joint and painful, sometimes progressing to back pain. This hip flexor stretch can give quick relief and promote better hip extension for daily movement.
- Start in standing and assume a standing lunge position with the leg of the hip you want to stretch in the back
- Bring your back knee down to the floor, placing a pillow or towel under the knee for comfort if needed
- Keep an upright posture with the back knee directly under the hip so start also ensure the front leg is flexed to approximately 90 degrees at both the hip and knee with the knee behind the toes
- Put your hands on your hips as you shift your weight forward toward the front hip
- Keep the hips square and avoid arching the back, moving until you feel a stretch across the front of the hip
- Hold for 30+ seconds for 2-3 sets on each hip
Single Knee to Chest Stretch
- Lie on your back with both legs out straight
- Bring one knee up toward your chest
- Wrap both hands around your knees
- Gently pull your thighbone closer to your chest until a stretch is felt in the butt and back of the leg
- Hold for 30+ seconds for 2-3 sets
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How Arthritis Affects Your Hips
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint the ball is the top of your thigh bone, and it sits in a socket thats formed by part of your pelvic bone. Slippery tissue called cartilage covers the bone surface and helps cushion the joint. Cartilage creates a low-friction environment so you can move easily and without pain, explains Wayne Johnson, MD, orthopedic surgeon and assistant clinical professor at the University of Oklahoma.
In osteoarthritis , the cartilage in the hip joint gradually wears down, which over time leads to pain, stiffness, swelling, and lack of mobility, says Dr. Johnson, who is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Everyday tasks like bending over to tie a shoe, getting up from a chair, or going for a walk become more challenging and painful. The lifetime risk of developing osteoarthritis of the hip is 25 percent.
With rheumatoid and other forms of inflammatory arthritis, the immune system mistakenly attacks a protective lining in your joint called the synovium, and destroys cartilage. Though RA tends to affect smaller joints first , symptoms can spread to both your hips as the disease progresses.
Half Crunch On The Ball
Do 2 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions.
Repeat 10 times.
The number of repetitions and sets recommended here are just thatrecommendations. You may do more or less depending on your ability. Remember that keeping good form is more important than doing multiple sets or repetitions. If you have questions about form, a doctor or physical therapist can help guide you.
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What Exercises Are Good For Hand Arthritis
People who live with arthritis know the pain, stiffness, and weakness that come with the joint disorder. Arthritic hands can be especially debilitating since humans are almost constantly doing something with their hands.
Certain exercises may help to reduce the pain of arthritis while also working to strengthen the hands. Here are some easy exercises to relieve arthritic pain that you can do almost anywhere.
Tips To Protect Your Joints While You Exercise
An exercise mantra of the 1980s used to proclaim, no guts, no glory. Now a good approach is train, dont strain. Those of us with arthritis might feel less inclined to exercise, but in fact exercise is crucial for increasing strength, reducing joint pain, and avoiding fatigue. The key is train, dont strain you dont need to be a weekend warrior to see real results.Tips to protect your joints:
- Avoid exercise involving the same groups of muscle two days in a row
- Rest a day between workouts
- Take a rest of at least an extra day or two if your joints are swollen or painful
- Building muscle might require a 3-day a week program, but only 2-days a week is necessary for maintenance
- Keep the impact low ellipticals, pools and stationary bicycles are your friend
- Go slowly, move gently and apply ice afterwards to reduce joint swelling
- #1 tip dont overdo it. Trust your instincts. Theres always tomorrow.
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Psoriatic Arthritis Of The Hip
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that can develop in people with psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition that can also cause inflammation in the joints, including the hip. Over time, untreated inflammation can lead to joint damage. Psoriatic arthritis of the hip is a chronic condition. It can develop before or after the telltale skin symptoms of psoriasis develop.
Dos And Donts Of Easing Arthritis Pain
- Learn as much as possible about your condition, including the type of arthritis and extent of joint damage .
- Plan your pain management tactics with your family, friends, and doctor.
- Be honest with your doctor should the pain increase.
- Maintain good posture, whether sitting, standing or walking.
- Maintain a healthy weight to prevent added stress on your joints.
- Perform gentle stretches to move your joints through their full range of motion every day.
- Perform low-impact activities that build muscle and strength without damaging your joints, such as walking, swimming or cycling.
- Balance physical activity with plenty of rest.
- Work with your doctor on a custom medication plan for your distinct symptoms.
- Make good use of heat and cold, such as heating pads, paraffin wax and/or ice packs.
- Consider massage for temporary relief of pain and joint stiffness.
- Consider therapeutic activities for the mind and body, including talk therapy, relaxation exercises or acupuncture.
- What Makes Arthritis Pain Worse?
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Physical Activity For Arthritis
If you have arthritis, participating in joint-friendly physical activity can improve your arthritis pain, function, mood, and quality of life. Joint-friendly physical activities are low-impact, which means they put less stress on the body, reducing the risk of injury. Examples of joint-friendly activities include walking, biking and swimming. Being physically active can also delay the onset of arthritis-related disability and help people with arthritis manage other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Learn how you can increase your physical activity safely.
On This Page
Stay as active as your health allows, and change your activity level depending on your arthritis symptoms. Some physical activity is better than none.
For substantial health benefits, adults with arthritis should follow the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendations for Active Adult or Active Older Adult, whichever meets your personal health goals and matches your age and abilities. Learn more at the Physical Activity GuidelinesExternal website.
Learn how you can safely exercise and enjoy the benefits of increased physical activity with these S.M.A.R.T. tips.
- Start low, go slow.
- Modify activity when arthritis symptoms increase, try to stay active.
- Activities should be joint friendly.
- Recognize safe places and ways to be active.
- Talk to a health professional or certified exercise specialist.
Start low, and go slow
Exercises For Arthritic Hips
With specific exercise, you can strengthen your hip muscles and support joint movement. It is important to note that when you do these exercises, you should follow them precisely. You may experience muscle aches and some pain. Some of this is normal and you should allow time before changing your routine, as long as your doctor approves.
Perform all exercises slowly and with care, three times daily. You can select between three to four exercises for every session. Dont forget to stretch and warm up, as well as spend time cooling down. It is suggested to take an easy walk for a few minutes before starting your exercises. This helps get your muscles ready to exercise and improves circulation. Dont forget to take a slow walk at the end of your exercise to help your heart rate slow back down.
Suggested exercises for arthritic hips are:
1. Flexor Stretch
First stand with in a walking position. Both hands in front of you for support, lean and bend your knee from the forward leg. Push hips forward while keeping back straight. Youll feel the stretch from front hip to thigh through back leg. 20-30 second hold and repeat about five times.
2. Static Gluteals
Lie with your legs and back straight. Tighten your butt muscles by clenching and hold for ten seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.
Lie with back with knees bent and squeeze your butt, lifting it from the floor. Dont arch the back. Relax and return to start. Ten repeats for a rep.
4. Active Hip Flexion
5. Active Hip Abduction
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Hip Exercise: Bodyweight Squat
Progression from the sit-and stand to help strengthen thighs and buttocks
- Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart, or a little wider. If needed, hold on to something stable, like the back of sturdy chair or kitchen sink.
- Keep your chest lifted and shift your weight back into your heels while slowly pushing your hips back, as is you were sitting down into a chair.
- Keep your feet flat and lower yourself as far as youre comfortable .
- Push through your heels and bring your body back up to standing.
- Repeat the sequence 3 times gradually build up to more reps.
Tip: Keeping your feet a little wider than shoulder-distance apart is better for balance when you are struggling with hip pain, says Shroyer.
Any Exercise Is Good For You
Regular exercise is critical for joint health and arthritis pain management, but you dont have to join a gym or begin a vigorous fitness regime! Tasks that are already part of your daily routine, such as walking your dog, gardening, or mowing the lawn can help you stay active and reduce arthritis pain. To avoid increased pain, adjust your activity levels as your confidence and abilities grow. Exercise is a healthy and effective way to manage arthritis pain, so you can start to feel like your old self again.
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The 5 Best Hip Exercises For Arthritis
Hip osteoarthritis pain and stiffness can make simple tasks like sitting down in a chair or bending over to put on your shoes more difficult. It’s one of the main reasons more than 370,000 people get hip replacement surgery each year, according to the American Association of Retired Persons.
Fortunately, hip arthritis exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint, such as your glutes, can make a big difference in managing your symptoms and preventing the need for surgery.
Below are five hip exercises for arthritis from Grayson Wickham PT, DPT, CSCS, founder of Movement Vault. They’re a mix of strength moves and stretches â both of which are needed for joint health.
Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. If you feel any pain during exercise, stop doing the exercise altogether, says Danine Fruge, MD, medical director at Pritikin Longevity Center.
âIt is always wise to listen to your body and stop, modify the activity or decrease the amount of exercise if you have increased pain during or after exercise, can indicate more inflammation and wear and tear and lead to more joint degeneration.â
Hip Arthritis Exercises To Help Manage Pain
If youre struggling with hip arthritis, exercises can help to improve your quality of life. As articular cartilage wears out in the hip joint, it can become increasingly painful, stiff, and difficult to move. Regardless of the type of arthritis you are suffering from, such as osteoarthritis of the hip, ankylosing spondylitis, or rheumatoid arthritis, having an exercise program to better manage your hip arthritis is essential. While it wont reserve your hip arthritis, it can make symptoms manageable and prevent unnecessary complications such as hip replacement surgery and disability. Keep reading to learn more about exercises for hip arthritis.
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Exercise Probably Wont Make Hip Arthritis Worse
You may worry that working out will cause your arthritic hip to deteriorate faster. For most people, this worry is unfounded. In fact, research suggests you can walk for at least 10,000 steps each day without doing additional damage to your arthritic hip joint.5
Choose an exercise routine you enjoy, whether it involves workouts at the gym, yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, or more moderate activity such as short walks throughout each day. Try to find the right exercise program that allows you to get stronger without significantly increasing your symptoms.
Can Exercise Help Ease Arthritis Pain
Arthritis is a terribly painful medical condition that affects joints, particularly as we age. The good news is that regular exercise improves function and mobility while reducing pain. While proper movement and pressure can nourish the cartilage in joints, inactivity can increase arthritic pain and worsen the condition. Lack of exercise causes stiff joints that are malnourished, unlubricated and dry.
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