Arthritis pain is something that affects millions, not just the elderly.
Luckily, there are some excellent non-invasive therapies that do more than relieve painful joint swelling. Swimming is an example of one exercise that can be enjoyed year round.
Here is a look at six water exercises to contemplate in the fight against arthritis and painful joints.
Tip Toe Walks
Tiptoe walking in water will address the stiffness and swelling in the lower legs. There will be less pressure on the all-important knees, which will facilitate the ability to do this daily. This exercise should be started with laps from the short side of the pool.
Gauge the number of times this is done based on the first two laps. This means getting out of the water to walk around the length of the pool. If the pain level is below a two, jump in for two more laps. If it is higher, hang back with a day in-between.
Change it Up
Join a program in the area that has access to a pool with flexible hours. A community center is an ideal location that usually has several pools and exercise programs to fit a variety of schedules. To mix things up, participate at one pool for a program like aqua yoga followed by another class on water Zumba the next day.
This will fool the joints to avoid them becoming complacent. The body has a way of reaching a plateau during physical therapy so changing venues will keep this at bay so progress is made with each exercise and swelling is minimized.
Water squats are excellent for hips and knees. This will need to be done in wading pools or shallow ends of a larger one. While facing the deck, hang on to the edge before slowly squatting. This does not need to be a deep or hard bend, but a moderate one, where the gluteus maximus is tense.
Motions should be slow and gentle. At the beginning of this exercise hold it for one beat and repeat it 10 times. As time goes on, increase the beat to five seconds and repetitions to 20 times.
Hands and Arms
Upper extremities include the hands, elbows and shoulders which will respond nicely to daily engagement with palm squeezes. Basically, perform a full extension of hands followed by making a fist as tight as you can. A slow and fluid motion should be used in the beginning for at least 10 times.
Follow this with 10 more times while holding the extension for one beat and increasing the speed. The pressure provided by water will build extensor muscles in the hands that engage forearm muscles.
Bend those elbows as if you are lifting invisible weights. Start with 10 up and down motion using both arms at the same time. Next, move to one arm up and down for 10 times followed by the opposite side for 10 times.
Finally, move both arms at alternate times with one bending up while the other is down. Repeat this motion 10 times. The motion should start slowly with the first five in each repetition set and end with a moderate speed.
The shoulder or “wing” muscles need to be cautiously engaged to avoid tearing rotator cuffs. This is a common injury for anyone, especially if there is an arthritic condition. Stand in water that is neck deep facing the edge. This positioning will offer balance if needed.
Begin by slowly flapping arms up and down by your side. Next, raise arms to a comfortable level on the side followed by letting them meet in front. Clasp and hold hands for two seconds. Repeat each of these for 10 repetitions.
Working muscles will provide strength that increases the range of motion in achy joints. This in-turn minimizes or alleviates swelling and pain in joints. Review these exercises with your doctor before starting. Consistency is essential once the green light for this kind of activity is given.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For elders with joint pain, she recommends finding an active retirement community with indoor or outdoor pools to help with these exercises.