Protect Your Joints this Winter with the Wonders of Water Therapy
For many people with arthritis, the bone-chilling cold weather can be especially tough on the joints. A drop in temperature may even amplify aches, stiffness and pain for some. The good news is, there is an easy way to ease arthritis pain, strengthen muscle and improve mobility with water therapy! Warm water can provide soothing support, plus it’s gentle on the bones, joints and muscles.
Research has shown that soaking in warm water, swimming or water exercises can help reduce the pressure placed on sore and inflamed joints and improve stiffness. Even having a warm bath or shower after your daily exercises can alleviate muscle and joint pain.
“Water exercises can be quite enjoyable, and warm water immersion is a great way to promote relaxation. Just remember to not only sit still in the water, but to also perform gentle movements. At home, you can test your range of motion or try breathing exercises in your bathtub,” says Dr. Diane Lacaille, Scientific Director, Arthritis Research Canada.
Here are some standard exercises to try in water
- Neck Range of Motion
- Hand Range of Motion
- Sitting Range of Motion for Feet, Ankles, Knees, Hip
- Seated Yoga or Stretching
- Breathing Exercises
For hot tubs/spas and swimming pools
Typically, deeper water means less weight bearing and load on the joints.
Arm Circles – Extend your arms out to your sides and rotate your shoulders to make circles with your arms. After 30 seconds of this exercise, reverse the direction of your shoulder rotation.
Flutter Kicks – In a seated position, and with your legs underwater, extend your legs straight out. Kick them one at a time for 30 seconds.
Bicycle Crunches – In a seated position, extend your legs straight out. Bend one leg and bring your knee towards your chest and then straighten it back out. Repeat with the other leg. Do this 10 times for each leg.
Dr. Lacaille adds, “arthritis-related pain can affect people throughout the year. You can’t control the weather, but you can certainly take steps to relieve the discomfort.” Don’t let the cold put a freeze on your fitness routine – as one thing is certain, regular exercise helps keep the joints moving and is one of the best ways to manage your pain.