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Our fitness expert weighs in on exercises and products for arthritis pain relief

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What are the best exercises and products for arthritis pain?

While exercise is crucial for anyone, those with arthritis know the importance of staying active. Unfortunately, pain in the back, hips or knees means there are a limited number of exercises you can safely perform. If you’re struggling to find the right exercises to help you stay fit and keep arthritic pain to a minimum, you’re not alone.

As a performance enhancement specialist and founder of Serious Fitness, Judd NeSmith knows how to help individuals achieve optimum fitness. So, we asked for his advice on the best exercises and products for arthritis pain relief.

What to know about arthritis 

What is arthritis?

With over 100 types of arthritis, it is actually not a single disease and can’t be connected to a specific cause. Instead, arthritis is often used to refer to joint pain or joint disease. A few common types include osteoarthritis, which is when the cartilage cushioning the bones rubs away, and inflammatory arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis includes rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and gout. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of being born with that certain genetic card for arthritis to run in the family,” NeSmith said.

Tips for managing arthritis

  • “Exercise is not going to heal arthritis. However, it can prevent it from becoming worse. Exercise will build a stronger joint, add lean muscle and provide more stability,” NeSmith noted.
  • Massage is excellent for arthritic inflammation. If you have a massage gun, use the small finger attachment and work it around the forearm muscles attached to your hand.
  • One way exercise relieves pain is by promoting blood flow. Increased blood flow warms the soft tissue up, making it more pliable.
  • Gaining weight over the years can put too much stress on the joint and cause arthritic pain. Losing weight will especially minimize the strain on your hips, knees and ankles.

Exercises for arthritis pain relief

Regardless of the type of arthritis, staying active is one of the best ways to improve the pain. According to NeSmith, “Starting some type of simple exercise routine could make a big difference down the line. It really would improve pain, improve mobility and make you stronger.” However, the exercises that will benefit you depend on where your arthritis bothers you the most.

Arthritis in the spine or back

Pain in the spine or back is common as you get older due to faulty movement patterns and bad posture. To relieve the pain, you’ll want to focus on strengthening the middle-upper back, which will ultimately help you get back into proper alignment.

Resistance bands will be helpful for back exercises, but make sure they have a handle. NeSmith recommends doing standing band rows to improve your spine or back pain. For this exercise, attach the band to a pole, door or something solid. While facing the pole, grab the resistance band underhanded and pull it toward your belly button, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart. “Doing three sets of 15 reps with consistency every other day can really help a person improve cervical spine pain due to arthritis,” he said.

Arthritis in the hips

If you mainly feel pain in your hips, modified squats will be the most beneficial exercise. Instead of squatting all the way down, customize this move by only going down part of the way or by using the wall or a chair for support. Modified squats will not only strengthen the quadriceps around your knee, hamstrings and glutes, but they will also increase blood flow around the joints. While it seems like a simple exercise, NeSmith finds it to be one of the best ways to manage and even slow down arthritis.

Arthritis in the hands

One of the simplest ways to minimize arthritic pain in your hands is to exercise using hand strengtheners, such as grip balls or hand grippers. It promotes blood flow to the hands and strengthens the fingers. To do this properly, put both fingers and thumb around the handle. Aim to reach for 20 to 30 reps three times a day.

Arthritis in the knees

Wearing a knee brace while walking or exercising is essential for anyone with arthritis in their knees. A few recommended exercises include modified squats and calf stretches. Knee arthritis is common, and unfortunately, sometimes knee replacement surgery is the best option. However, NeSmith cautioned that while you may feel like you have a brand new knee, you should still limit the amount of activity. 

Best products for arthritis pain relief

TheFitLife Exercise Resistance Bands with Handles

TheFitLife Exercise Resistance Bands with Handles

With a durable carabiner and adjustable tension level, users can customize the resistance level by stacking multiple bands. This set includes two cushioned handles, a waterproof carrying bag, two ankle straps and five labeled anti-snap latex bands in varying resistance levels.

Sold by Amazon

Serenilite Hand Therapy Exercise Stress Ball

Serenilite Hand Therapy Exercise Stress Ball

This bundle includes a soft-, medium- and hard-density ball with a high-resistance gel core and smooth lycra fabric. They’re durable and hypoallergenic, and they retain their shape.

Sold by Amazon

Sklz Grip Strength Trainer

Sklz Grip Strength Trainer

Since you can easily adjust the resistance level from 20 pounds to 90 pounds, this grip strength trainer is ideal for all training levels. It is compact enough to take on the go and has a curved design and anti-slip handle to provide security and comfort.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon

 

Shock Doctor Bio-Logix Knee Brace

Shock Doctor Bio-Logix Knee Brace

The bilateral aluminum hinges will provide support during exercising while allowing a natural range of motion. In addition, this knee brace uses a compression sleeve and a combination of soft and rigid materials to provide maximum comfort.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon

Copper Fit ICE Knee Compression Sleeve

Copper Fit ICE Knee Compression Sleeve

This knee compression sleeve features the cooling sensation of micro-encapsulated menthol to reduce stiffness and pain. Plus, the anti-chafing seamless design and four-way stretch ensure you stay comfortable.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon

Theragun Elite Massage Gun

Theragun Elite Massage Gun

Ease tension, release soreness and tame arthritic inflammation with this ultra-quiet massage gun. It features 120 minutes of battery life and connects to your smartphone with Bluetooth.

Sold by Theragun and Amazon

 

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Bre Richey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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