Osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease) describes a series of mechanical irregularities which affect joints, articular cartilage and subchondral bone. Initially, the surface of the cartilage becomes inflamed and irritated; the joint starts losing tissues and water while the cartilage is stricken by cracks and ditches; ultimately, the cartilage becomes tougher or even destroyed partially and the edges of the bone end up being uncovered, thus resulting in pain and discomfort in performing basic moves.
Osteoarthritis commonly affects joints of the feet, knees, hips, spine and fingers and is most often encountered among older people (but it also strikes younger people). A direct consequence of that condition is limited movement (due to pain) which usually results in the withering of the muscles involved. Oddly enough, although osteoarthritis makes moving wearisome, it is exercising that can actually be beneficial for tackling it, so below are listed some representative stretches for it.
Basically, there are no particular osteoarthritis causes; in fact, it is the combination of several variables that can result in its appearance and deterioration. That being said, here are some contributing factors
- Heredity and congenital imperfections in joints
- Aging of spinal structures and joints
- Poor posture
- A previous joint injury
- Excess weight, which tends to put abnormal stress on the joints
- Endocrine-related issues (for example diabetes)
Here are some typical osteoarthritis symptoms:
- Crispy or burn-resembling pain sensed in the affected joints and tendons (hips, knees, spine)
- Stiffness which comes and goes
- Reduced range of motion in the affected areas
- Crepitating noise accompanying the movements
- Swelling and local inflammation
- Finger joints appear to be bigger, stiff and hurtful
- Difficulty in holding things due to pain (the last two symptoms have to do with hand osteoarthritis)
Osteoarthritis Stretching Exercises
First of all we need to notice that you must be aware of a few stretching principles before trying the following exercises. Below are a multitude of exercises for osteoarthritis which can benefit the sufferer if performed in a gentle and controlled manner. But before presenting them, do have in mind that a bunch of various static/active stretches that can be found elsewhere (knee-to-chest pulls, some hamstring, knee and thigh stretches, the standing calf stretch or the standing quadriceps stretch) can also be of great value to handle osteoarthritis (mainly for discomfort located to the lower parts of the body, such as arthritic knee pain).
- A static/active stretch which is among the ideal knee osteoarthritis exercises is this: sit on a chair with your knees bent together at an angle of 90 degrees, with the soles in contact with the floor; then, gradually lift up your left leg so that it comes parallel to the ground while the right one is still touching the floor; hold it for 20-30 seconds, return it to the initial position and do the same with the right leg; do this for 20 repetitions in total (photo 1). A dynamic version of the exercise can also help the patient relieve the symptoms.
- An exceptional yoga pose, called utkatasana is ideal for spinal osteoarthritis; stand with your back straight, your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms extended in front of your chest at the shoulder level and your palms facing the floor; now, raise your arms overhead while slowly bending your knees like you are trying to sit down, keeping your spine in a straight line and your soles in total touch with the floor; stay there for 30-60 seconds and then slowly come up again; repeat for 3-5 times.
- For those who suffer from osteoarthritis in firnger, here is a simple, dynamic-like stretch (photo 3); clench your fingers in your palm in a way that your fingertips get initially in touch with the roots of your fingers, subsequently move them towards the middle of your palm and finally open up your fist; do it for 10-20 repetitions for each hand, trying to perform the exercise as controllably as possible.
- Mushtika Bandhana (in essence, hand clenching) is another dynamic yoga pose for palms (photo 4), a bit more complicated than the above described exercise; sit on a chair with your back vertical, your arms in front of you at the level of your shoulder and parallel to the floor; make a fist with your thumbs positioned inside the other fingers; then, open your hands and stretch out your fingers; do it for 8-10 times.
- Generally, remember to frequently stretch your hands and fingers, keeping them in constant motion to their full range of motion; for example, an even simpler “stretch” than the previously presented is simply to make a strong fist and then open up your hands wide open.
As in any other case, you can apply different forms of a specific stretch.. for example a dynamic version of a static stretch described above is also useful in terms of pain relief etc.!
Photos & Videos
Watch the photos and video below for a better understanding of the previously mentioned stretches:
Other Osteoarthritis Treatment Options
For those who seek for another treatment for osteoarthritis, maybe one of the following should be considered:
- A medium-intensity aerobic exercise program (which triggers endorphin production, thus relieving from pain in a natural way)
- Strengthening exercises
- Exercising in water (which allows for adequate resistance with zero vibrations)
- Special osteoarthritis medications
- A healthy and balanced diet regime
- Execrably, a joint replacement surgery, if the pain becomes intolerable
If executed solely or, preferably, if coordinated with osteoarthritis stretches, these measures can render the maximum outcome.
Perhaps the most crucial factor for dealing with osteoarthritis is a balanced combination between staying active and resting, and a well-scheduled stretching program is one of the most appropriate ways of achieving increased mobility and maximum osteoarthritis pain relief.
Category: Stretches and Diseases