Using Pilates to Relieve Arthritis Joint Pain

Because Arthritis joint pain is caused by wear and tear on the joints you may not even consider exercising when you are hurting. To alleviate some of the pain and stiffness you are feeling, low impact exercises can be the best thing you can do.

Exercising the muscles that cushion sore joints can lessen the pressure on the joints. Some of these sore joints include: the hips, shoulders, knees, and hands?wrists.

The most common cause of arthritis joint pain is mal-alignment. A properly aligned joint with balanced muscle strength coming from opposing sides can reduce pain and support your activities that you enjoy.

What this means is that if you are strengthening the muscles in the thigh or front of the leg you also need to work the opposing group of hamstrings in the back of the leg.

Pilates exercises are designed to stretch and strengthen muscles groups at the same time. What this means is that the muscle groups that support your spine, knees, hips, and shoulders will be equally balanced. This corrective practice will, in turn, cause them to move more efficiently with less wear and tear, which equals less pain.

Stronger Muscles = Less Pressure on Joints = Less Pain!

Some sample Pilates exercises to help relieve the arthritis joint pain that you are feeling:

———————— Joint Pain Exercise for the Hips:

· Pilates leg circles are a great exercise to stabilize the pelvis while lubricating the hip joint and simultaneously stretching and strengthening those muscles of the hip and upper leg.

Leg circles are done by lying on your back with one leg extended out along the floor and the other can be extended almost to a 90 degree angle or modify by bending at the knee. Feel the femur or thigh bone heavy in the hip socket and rotate in circles keeping the torso anchored into the mat. Do this 5-8 times each direction.

————————— Wrist Joint Pain Exercise:

· Wrist/finger curls: One of my favorites to strengthen the wrist and increase finger dexterity is to do curls using a small dumbbell or weighted ball.

Leaning forward in a chair with your forearm resting on your thigh palm up and the back of the hand hanging off your leg. Roll the weight out to your finger tips and then slowly curl with your fingers and then make a fist around it as it curls into your palm. Do this 10 times on each hand.

————————— Shoulder Joint Pain Exercise:

· A great way to stabilize the shoulder joint is by doing scapular protraction and retraction exercises.

Standing with your arms extended at chest height, protract the scapula by reaching the arms out farther away drawing the shoulder blades apart. Retract the scapula by drawing or sliding the shoulder blades together. Complete 8-12 repetetions of this exercise in each direction.

————————– Joint Pain Exercise for the Knees:

Eve’s Lunge on the Pilates reformer is one of the best ways I have found to stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint. If this equipment is not available for you try doing a non-impact exercise such as leg extensions with a small soft ball.

Place a small ball between your knees as you are lying on your back. Extend your legs squeezing the ball more feeling your inner thighs working and your spine stretch flat into the mat. Bend your knees again to relax. Do this for 10-15 times.

To find a qualified Pilates instructor near you go to:


Tips to begin any arthritis joint pain exercises:

1. Start slowly – Begin with low repetitions (4-8 times) and light weights (2-5 lbs).

2. Progress in small increments – after a week or two with no pain and soreness increase reps or frequency by a couple of reps or minutes.

3. Set goals you can achieve – If it’s only exercising one day per week then start there.

4. Work in a pain free range of motion. No Pain – No Gain is not allowed here!