Waking up with stiff and achy joints is especially common for arthritis sufferers. Pain can sometimes begin in the early hours, causing a restless night’s sleep. We know there’s nothing worse than starting your day a few paces behind because of aching joints, so here are a variety of easy exercises and stretches to do each morning.
It only takes a few minutes as the sun rises to warm up and stretch out your joints, most exercises can even be done before getting out of bed. If you have osteoarthritis, as little as 5-10 minutes of exercises can help improve joint movement...a hot shower before or after will also aid with relaxing your muscles.
(PLEASE NOTE: as with all forms of stretching and exercise only do what your body allows if any of the following causes pain stop immediately. If you are not sure, consult a medical practitioner.)
Back, hips and knees:
1. Lying on your back, bend both knees and place feet flat on the floor/bed. Taking hold of one knee, use hands to bring up towards chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds before releasing. Repeat a few times on both legs.
2. Lie on your back with right knee bent and the right foot flat on the surface. Bend the left leg and put hands behind left thigh. Lift this left leg into the air and straighten as much as possible, using hands to pull leg towards chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds before gently releasing. Repeat on each leg 2-3 times.
3. Similar to the previous stretch, begin with both knees bent and feet flat. Lift and cross one ankle on the top of the opposing knee. Wrap hands behind this knee and pull towards chest, holding for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times on both sides.
Arms, shoulders and neck:
1. Laying flat on your back with a pillow under your head, raise both arms towards the ceiling with your palms facing each other. (Bend knees if this is more comfortable). Keeping your head on the pillow, begin to raise your shoulder blades as if trying to touch the ceiling. Once feeling the stretch, hold for 20-30 seconds before slowly releasing. Repeat 2-3 times.
2. Standing a few feet away from either a corner or doorway, place your hands at shoulder height on either side of the wall/doorway. Proceed to lean your body weight into the corner/doorway whilst bending your elbows. Once you feel a stretch across the front of your shoulders and chest, hold for 30 seconds before releasing. Repeat 2-3 times.
3. Stand with arms by your side. Slowly bring your right arm across your chest, keeping it straight. Take hold of your right elbow with your left hand to help further stretch your right arm across your body. When you feel a nice stretch in the upper arm and shoulder, hold this position for 30 seconds. Release and repeat with left arm. Do this stretch 2-3 times for each arm.
Following on from our top 5 hand exercises blog post, we’ve added two more actions you can do to help with stiffness and aching in your hands and fingers.
1. Wrap a rubber band around all five fingers just below your fingertips. Slowly spread your fingers apart as far as you can, holding the stretch for about 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times on each hand.
2. Roll up a small hand towel or grab a large sponge. Take the towel or sponge in one hand and squeeze. Hold this squeeze for 5 seconds before relaxing. Repeat 10-15 times on both hands.
Of course, on top of the recommended exercises, rubbing our drug-free gel onto areas affected by arthritis will further help to improve pain and mobility.