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Pool exercises to help relieve arthritis joint pain

The pool can be a great place for gentle exercise for pain relief for the aching joints caused by arthritis. Here are our practical tips.

If you’re struggling with arthritis a heated pool might just be the answer you’ve been looking for. The warm water helps loosen stiff joints while at the same time supporting your body and helping you keep your balance. And the gentle resistance provided by the water is perfect, as it helps you build muscle and improve the mobility and flexibility of your joints. Exercising in a relatively shallow pool is best as it allows you to stand and do your exercises (although if you prefer working with a float in deeper water, that’s fine too!).

While many people are aware of the benefits to be had at the swimming pool, a lot of people are unsure exactly what they should do when they get there. This means that more often than not they end up doing a couple of lengths of front crawl, breaststroke or backstroke and then get out without really feeling like they’ve accomplished all they could. The purpose of this article is to teach you a few simple exercises to do in the pool that will help you sooth those aching joints.

The following plan is based on five repetitions of each exercise (alternating between legs, arms, wrists etc). Remember it’s best to tread cautiously, so you should start off gently and increase your activity gradually as your body gets used to the regime. Of course, it goes without saying that you should check with your doctor before embarking on any new exercise regime, and this is no exception. He knows your case history and so is the best person to guide you when it comes to determining how often to exercise.

For your legs...

1. Leg Swing (hip flexion). Leaning on the edge of the pool, swing your leg backwards and forwards (keeping your knee locked and the leg as straight as possible). Gradually increase the range of movement. Repeat for both legs.

2. Leg Lift and Knee Extension (hip and knee flexion). Leaning on the side of the pool, bend your leg at the knee and lift it as high as it will go. Once raised, straighten out your leg and keep it straight as you lower it to the floor. Repeat with the other leg.

3. Sideways Leg Lift (abduction and hip abduction). Leaning on the side of the pool, raise your leg up and out to the side. Swing it down to the floor and then up the other side (as if it were a pendulum). Repeat with the other leg.

For your stomach...

1. Stand with your back to the side of the pool and your hands on the edge. Lift both legs off the floor (with your knees bent). If you want to increase the difficulty of this exercise you can try keeping your legs straight as you lift them.

For your torso...

1. Pendulum (lateral spine flexion). Place your hands on your hips and flex from side to side. As you stretch from side to side be careful not to let your shoulders get out of line.

2. Sideways Spine Stretch (lateral spine flexion). Place your hands straight down at your sides and bend sideways from the waist by slowly sliding one of your hands down your leg. This should be a very gradual movement (remembering to stop as soon as you feel any discomfort). Try to focus on stretching your spine out as you go. Slowly slide your hand back up your leg until you are back at your starting position and repeat on the other side.


Arthritis, Wellbeing, Symptoms, Non-pharmacological treatments, Exercise

Author: Luis Miguel Pérez, Exercise and Sports Science Graduate

Last Modification: November 7, 2016

© People Who Global, iStock.com

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