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Hamilton Health Sciences Home
December 13, 2016

Arthritis exercises for cold weather

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It affects ten per cent of Canadians over age 15, and in some people, it can lead to significant disability. It occurs when the protective cartilage that covers the ends of your bones wears down over time, and can cause stiffness, pain and swelling.

Everyone’s arthritis behaves differently, but for many people, exercising the joints daily reduces reduces the severity of symptoms. Consistent movement gets your blood flowing, helps with stiffness and improves flexibility.

It may seem intimidating to begin exercising when your joints are in pain, but overtime these habits can be a big help.

In the video below, Stephen Patton, an advanced physiotherapist practitioner at Hamilton Health Sciences, shares simple exercises for your hips, knees and hands. Follow along and try them out!

If you’re able, attempt ten repetitions of these exercises three times each day. Stop if an exercise feels painful or too challenging.

Strengthening the muscles around your joints can help provide support to the joint and reduce arthritis pain. Gentle exercises like Tai Chi or water fitness are great examples.

Balancing physical activity with rest is important to managing your arthritis. Talk to your health care provider about what might work for you.

Arthritis Exercises

To reduce swelling and pain, exercise your hips, knees and hands regularly with advice from a health care provider.

For hips:

Ankle flexion: Lie down. Point and flex your toes to move your ankles.

Thigh and buttock release: Straighten your legs. Tighten your buttock and thigh muscles for five seconds. Release.

Hip and knee flexion: Bend your knee towards your waist, without exceeding a 90 degree angle. Straighten your leg.

Hip abduction: Keeping your leg straight, slide your leg out to the side and back towards the centre.

For knees:

Heel lift: Place a foam roll under your knee. Lift your heel up and straighten your knee. Hold for three seconds and lower your heel.

Straight leg raise: Keep your leg straight and lift your heel up with your toes pointing skyward. Hold for five seconds then lower gently.

Knee extension and flexion: Sit in a chair and pull your foot underneath as far as you can. Then, bring your foot forward and straighten your knee.

For hands:

Thumb to pinky: Start with your hand in a relaxed position, fingers extended. Bring your thumb across your palm and try to touch the base of your pinky finger.

Finger bend: Hold your fingers close together. Bend your fingers at the end and middle joints, keeping your knuckles straight. Extend your fingers.

C grip: Start with your fingers close together. Curve them in a “C” shape like you’re holding a pop ca. Slowly release.