One of the characteristic signs of arthritis is joint pain which can manifest in different ways. Arthritis can affect all the joints in your body, and the absence of lubricating fluid between the joints makes movement painful and stiff.
Interestingly, most of the time, the best remedy is to keep moving, which is why exercises have become a crucial part of arthritis management.
Lower body exercises are majorly to build strength in the muscles of your lower limbs. They help you improve the power distribution to these muscles, aiding your balance and flexibility.
What do lower body exercises mean?
Lower body exercises target the lower body muscles, including the quads, calves, hamstrings, and hip adductors.
They are the exercises of the lower extremities and will help to strengthen the muscles around that area.
Should people with arthritis exercise?
Yes, people with arthritis should exercise constantly.
The fact about arthritis is that constant motion and light exercises help to alleviate most of the joint pain and stiffness people with arthritis experience.
Lower body exercises for people with arthritis
There are various lower body exercises you can try to help you deal with arthritis pain, and they include:
1. Kettlebell swings
This kettlebell swing exercise targets the gluteus muscles and the hamstrings. It involves the use of a kettlebell. You must ensure that the kettlebell’s weight isn’t too heavy and overpowering. People with arthritis should avoid excessive weight at all costs.
HOW TO: Hold the kettlebell with both hands, stand with your feet apart (shoulder width distance), and bend into a half squat. Bend your hips forward as if you want to drop the kettlebell between your legs and stand back up by thrusting your hips so that the sudden movement will assist in lifting the kettlebell to your chest level.
Repeat the movement as often as you can.
2. Sit-Stand squats
The sit-stand squats help to strengthen the muscles in your buttocks and thighs.
HOW TO: Sit down on a chair with your knees facing forward but slightly apart from each other, and with your two arms stretched out straight in front of you, slightly stand up tall and then sit back down with your arms still stretched. Repeat the process several times.
3. Banded lateral walk
The banded lateral walk works well for the muscles around your butt and hips and involves using a stretching band.
HOW TO: Loop a band around your leg, like an inch above your knee, and position yourself in a quarter squat position. Start with your right leg and take massive steps that stretch the band around your legs. Follow up the step with your other knee till you’ve walked a considerable distance. Do a reverse movement with the left leg until you return to your starting point.
4. Hamstring stretch
The hamstring stretch exercise helps to strengthen your quadriceps and hip flexor muscles. You can do it while sitting, making it an exercise you can constantly do, even when waiting for a bus or your date to show up.
HOW TO: First of all, you move to the edge of your chair and place your left foot forward. Make sure that the heel of your left foot is on the ground. Straighten your left knee and pull it upwards with your hands.
Making sure that your back is not bent, you slide your two hands down your left knee while keeping your eyes straight and lift your leg at the knee joint. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat on the other side.
5. Leg press with resistance bands
The leg press exercise with the use of resistance bands helps to strengthen your quads, calf, and hamstring muscles in the leg. And you can do it while sitting down.
HOW TO: Sitting down with your back straightened, loop a resistance band around one leg and hold it at your waist level. Bend your knee and start to raise your thigh gently. Push onto the band with your leg as far as possible and hold for a few seconds.
Bend your knee and repeat for the other leg.
6. Side leg raises
If you constantly experience difficulty in tasks requiring you to bend your knee and waist, like getting in and out of a car, you should try this lower body exercise. The side leg raises help to strengthen the hip abductors.
HOW TO: While standing, with your knees and feet facing the front, suck in your abs in a deep breath and raise your left leg straight out in a sideways direction. Repeat for each leg as long as you can.
7. Standing heel raise
Try this heel raise exercise if you hope to make stair climbing a less strenuous activity. It is a simple exercise you do while standing and helps strengthen your calf muscles.
HOW TO: Using a sturdy chair for support, rise on your toes as high as you can and slowly lower yourself down onto your heel. Repeat the process severally.
8. Standing hip extension
The hip extension exercise helps to strengthen your hip extensor muscles, and it is an easy exercise you can do anywhere.
HOW TO: Using a sturdy chair in front of you and your abs tight, slightly raise one leg to the back while keeping your knees straight. Raise the leg slightly off the ground for a few inches and hold that position.
Lower the leg and repeat the process for the other leg.
9. Ankle dorsiflexion
Ankle Dorsiflexion works your ankles and your knees. It is an exercise you do while sitting, and you can practice it while working at the office.
HOW TO: In a sitting position, roll up onto your toes as far as you can and back down onto your heels. Repeat the movement five times in both directions.
10. Calf stretch
The calf stretch exercise is for strengthening the leg’s calf muscles, and it is an easy exercise you can do in the comfort of your home or office.
HOW TO: Using a sturdy chair, stand behind the chair in a walking position with your right leg behind and your left leg bent slightly in front. Make sure your right heel is on the floor and hold onto the chair for support.
Move your body downwards and upwards as you can, mimicking a push-up motion while ensuring that your right heel is still on the ground. You will feel a stretch on your calf muscles.
Exercise tips for arthritis patients
Here are some tips to note when exercising:
1. Discuss with your doctor
Your doctor will know best the extent of strain you can put on your body based on the progression of the disease. Sometimes, you might want to try to go beyond the limit, but do so wisely and be sure to be able to identify your body’s warning signs.
2. Walk on a straight slope
Make sure to exercise on a straight and even slope, as it will help to protect your ankles from the extra strain.
3. Work on muscles and not joints
Do not engage in exercises that put a lot of strain on your joints, even jumping. The whole goal of exercising with arthritis is to relieve your joints of unnecessary pressure.
4. Avoid exercises with heavy weights
Exercising with heavy weight can put more strain on your joints than you want. Avoid weights that are ridiculously heavy and beyond your strength threshold. Start small and build up your tolerance and muscles if you desire to lift weights.
5. Avoid exercises that require you to change directions suddenly
When it comes to yoga and other stretching exercises, you might suddenly be required to change directions. Avoid it.
6. Be consistent
Consistency is what brings results. Input exercising as part of your daily routine and find exercises you can do without much stress.
7. Start small
Start small, avoid comparison, and set your own pace. Ease into the exercise routines, and as much as you want to challenge yourself, you should do it wisely to prevent any damage.
8. Always protect your joints
Use braces and joint pads to protect your joints when exercising.
9. Mix up exercises
Mix up different routines to get the best out of exercising. Sticking to a single routine might make it seem more like a chore.
10. Split your exercise time
If you need to exercise for 60 mins daily, you can split it into 20 mins of exercise three times daily, making it more bearable and fun.
11. Adjust your exercises to your strength
Do exercises at your strength level.
12. Work with a therapist
Working with a physical therapist will help you exercise strategically. You will be able to know what parts of your body you are strengthening, making exercising more effective for you.
13. Track your exercises
When it comes to tracking arthritis, exercise is one of the things you need to track. What type of exercise do you attempt, and were you able to do it? How did you feel afterward? Any changes to your body? How long did you exercise? These and more are some things you need to note.
14. Stop if it hurts too much
Always be ready to stop if it hurts too much. When this happens, report back to your doctor.
Lower body exercises help strengthen the lower body muscles, including your calf muscles, quads, and hamstrings. When these muscles are strengthened, they assist your joint and share the weight of the efforts, putting less strain on your joints and helping to alleviate the painful symptoms you constantly experience.
You can use most lower body exercises for the knee and the hips, but if you want more specific exercises, you can read more right here on my website. Check out knee exercises and hip exercises for people with arthritis.
Which of these lower body exercises have you tried out? Which would you like to try?