The chilly mornings, warm blankets, winter is a beautiful season that we all love. But for people living with arthritis, although there is no season or reason for pain, winter can amplify the severity of pain.
During winter, the urge to be a couch potato becomes stronger. A study of exercise habits of more than 1,000 people with knee osteoarthritis revealed that only 13% of the men, and 8% of the women, met the government’s minimum exercise goal (at least 150 minutes a week). In winters, the count may further decline.
By avoiding physical activity in winters, you will only amplify the morning stiffness and joint aches furthermore. Some research suggests that the reason for joint pain and muscle stiffness during winter is because when cold, our body conserves heat and send more of the blood to the vital organs like heart and lungs. Hence our joints receive less blood flow and can feel tight, stiff and uncomfortable.
Don’t worry, to help you enjoy and survive the winter without pain, here are a few simple exercises that you can try without getting out of the bed.
1. Supine hamstring stretch
Stretching your hamstring for 5 minutes daily can improve the strength of your lower muscles.
❖ Lie flat on your back on the bed with right leg bent from the knee
❖ Bring it to your chest slowly
❖ Hold the toes with your right hand and start stretching your leg straight. Bring the lifted leg towards your head until you feel the stretch.
❖ Hold for 30-60 seconds and slowly bend your knee and lower your leg back to the floor. Repeat with your left knee for 5 repetitions.
2. Knee to chest stretch
Strengthen your lower back and glutes with this simple stretch. It is also one of the best knee pain relief exercises.
❖ Lie straight on your back on the bed
❖ Pull the right knee towards your chest using your both hands gently
❖ Hold for 30 seconds or until you feel a throbbing stretch in your leg and the lower back.
❖ Bring your leg back to the starting position
❖ Stretch with the left knee. Do 2 to 3 sets of each knee for the maximum benefit
3. The clam
Known as the best among physiotherapy exercises for knee pain, clamshell exercise strengthens the weak glutes of hips thereby reducing the impact on the knees.
❖ Lie down on one side with your feet together
❖ Bend hips and knees to 90° with shoulders, hips, and feet aligned
❖ Lift top knee up as far as possible while keeping your feet together, then slowly lower it
❖ Repeat 10-15 times on each side
4. Quadriceps stretch
Arthritis in knees can restrict the flexibility and range of motion of the knees. With this stretch, the flexibility of the quadriceps will improve and your knee joint pain will fade away.
❖ Lie down on your stomach
❖ Place your right forearm in the front for support
❖ Slowly bend your left knee and grab the ankle or shin with your left hand
❖ Lift knee off your bed gently until you feel a slight stretch
❖ Hold for a few seconds, repeat alternative sides a few times
Heat is soothing and improves blood flow, decreases stiffness, and sometimes relieves pain. Hence before exercising use your electrotherapy device for better results. Also, take a warm shower after stretching to feel more flexible. You can also ice or UltraCool Pack on your sore muscles after stretch. Remember, exercise eases arthritis pain, increases strength and flexibility, and boosts your energy and a regular practice of it can lessen pain and improve your overall quality of life.