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Arthritis and Pilates

Exercise for Arthritis has traditionally being in the form of light yoga, swimming and water based exercises. Pilates is now a very acceptable form of exercise for Arthritis that will aid in pain relief, so much so, that more and more doctors are now prescribing Pilates to arthritis sufferers.

Pilates can help people with arthritis in many ways. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. It is important to keep these affected joints mobile. Pilates can reduce joint pain and stiffness by increasing flexibility, muscle strength and endurance. It can also help with weight reduction and contribute to an improved sense of well being. Pilates can be a part of a comprehensive arthritis treatment plan. People with arthritis may be less fit, weaker, and less flexible and have more pain than necessary. Pilates can be a great benefit to arthritis sufferers because:

  • The range of motion/flexibility/stretching exercises help to maintain normal joint
  • movement and relieve stiffness. This type of exercise helps maintain or regain lost flexibility.
    • It strengthens and conditions muscles. This helps to keep or increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect joints affected by arthritis.
    • When combined with aerobic or endurance exercises will improve cardiovascular fitness, will help keep weight in check. Keeping weight down is important to arthritis sufferers as extra weight puts pressure on many joints. Studies show that aerobic exercise can reduce inflammation in some joints.

Here are a few basic arthritis pain relief exercises.

Wall Roll Down: Stand with your lower back firmly against a wall and your feet about a foot away from the wall knees slightly bent. Inhale to prepare, exhale to drop your chin towards your chest and roll your spine off the wall one vertebrae at a time until your arms and head are hanging down over your hips and you’ve reached a point of resistance. Inhale to stay, exhale to roll back up the wall making sure each part of your spine makes contact with the wall. Use your abdominals! Note: How far you go into flexion depends on what type of arthritis you have. 
Repeat three times. Good for stretching hamstrings and spine.

Mermaid Stretch: Find a bench and sit on the front edge with your feet firmly on the ground and hips width apart. Inhale raise your right arm straight up to the sky, exhale and bend to the left, reaching out of the fingertips. Inhale to stay, exhale return to center.

Repeat both sides three times through. Make sure to keep your bottom squarely on the chair and your spine upright. Stretches the sides of your waist and ribcage.

Imprinted Spine: Lie on a mat or on a raised platform with knees bent and feet placed hips width apart on the mat. Breathe in and engage your abdominals.

Exhale and move your pelvis into a slight tuck feeling your lower back in contact with the floor. Inhale and release back to neutral.

Repeat five times.

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