Rheumatoid Arthritis Water Exercises

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in joint linings, specifically in the feet and hands. This results in joint pain, stiffness, swelling and can potentially lead to bone deterioration. While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, exercise is a common treatment. Exercising in water is a particularly beneficial treatment, as it provides buoyancy, making movements gentler on the joints. Water also provides a level resistance that helps rheumatoid arthritis patients strengthen muscles.

  1. Water Exercises at Home

    • If you want to perform rheumatoid arthritis water exercises at home, you will need either a pool or a hot tub. According to the American Arthritis Foundation at Arthritis.org, if a physician or other medical professional requires you to perform water exercises for rheumatoid arthritis, purchasing and installing a pool or hot tub may come with a full or partial tax deduction (depending on where you live). It is important that you speak with an accountant or lawyer to see what deductions apply in your particular case. The types of rehabilitation exercises you do at home will largely be determined by the shape and size of the aquatic space available. Pools are preferred because they provide more space allowing you to perform more energetic aerobic exercises. Whether you exercise in a pool or a hot tub, it is important to remember that you may need help entering and exiting the water. Make sure there is someone who can assist you.

    Joining a Class

    • If you do not have access to your own pool or hot tub, you can always use the facilities provided by a local gym or community center (such as the YMCA). While you can utilize pools or hot tubs at places like this during free or open swim sessions, it may be more beneficial to join a water exercise class specifically designed for arthritis sufferers and people with similar debilitating conditions.

      According to Athritis.org, these classes are typically held two to three times each week, and last between 45 to 60 minutes. A trained instructor runs each class, who can help you exercise effectively and safely.

    Suggested Exercises

    • According to Arthritis.org, the three most important types of exercise for rheumatoid arthritis are flexibility, strengthening and aerobic (or cardiovascular) exercises. You can increase flexibility by performing range-of-motion stretches (through yoga, tai chi or your own routine) in a pool or hot tub. One common flexibility exercise involves leaning against the back of the pool (holding on to the side for support), and slowly lifting one knee up to your chest. You can then alternate knees. One of the simplest strengthening water exercises requires you to sit on the steps or ladder in your pool or hot tub (with knees bent) and alternate straightening each leg. For aerobic water exercises, rheumatoid arthritis patients are encouraged to swim.

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