When your joints are inflamed and painful, exercise may not sound appealing. However, not moving can lead to more pain and stiffness over time because the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the joints tend to become shorter, thicker and less flexible. This decreases your ability to move your joints through a full range of motion and may impact your ability to do things you enjoy.
Range of motion exercises help counteract these effects. Here are several exercises that improve range of motion for different joints. For best results, do three to 10 repetitions once or twice a day.
Standing jacks for hips.
Holding onto a chair or counter with one hand, raise your opposite leg out to the side, then lower it. Repeat, then switch to the other leg.
Weightless bicep curls for elbows.
Sit or stand with arms hanging loosely by your sides. Raise hands with palms up in front of your body, keeping elbows down by your side. Slowly reach up to your shoulders, then lower hands to start. Repeat.
Arm kickbacks for shoulders.
Sit or stand with your arms hanging loosely by your sides. Push your arms back straight behind you, while gently squeezing your shoulder blades together. Return to start and repeat.
Glute kicks for knees.
Stand and put one hand on a wall or countertop for support. Bend one knee and try to bring your heel up to touch your rear end. Repeat, then switch legs.
Digit bends for hands.
Stretch out your hand, palm facing up. Take each finger and bend it slowly to the center of your palm. Hold and then straighten. Repeat sequence.