Osteoarthritis is the normal process of degeneration in our joints. It is most likely going to effect all of us, to a greater or lesser degree at some stage. The symptoms related to these changes are stiffness, pain, crepitus (a noisy, creaky noise on joint movement), and possibly inflammation/swelling.
As it is a little inevitable that our joints will wear. We should try to do the best we can to reduce the strain our joints receive, and maintain good overall health. By keeping mobile, trying to maintain a good body weight, posture and staying strong. Hopefully we can achieve this.
Some occupational or sport activities may increase the joint strain. It is a hard balance to strike, between doing too little and not doing too much. Enjoying your life and activities is obviously very important too! Exercise has many other benefits, including an improved mental state and cardiovascular well-being.
The following are a few gentle exercises that can help maintain joint mobility, whether you notice any issues or not.
These exercises shouldn’t cause pain, if you experience a problem, stop the exercise and consult your Osteopath or other medical practitioner. If you have an existing complaint, it would be wise to consult your practitioner to check these exercises are appropriate for you.
Bring your hand to the shoulder on the same side. Draw a circle to the side of your body with the elbow. Try 5 in one direction, then 5 circles in the opposite direction. Repeat on the other side. Try and keep the shoulders facing forwards during the exercise to keep the movement focused as much as possible in the shoulder joint.
Start this exercise laying on your back with your knees bent. Raise one knee towards your chest. Imagine you are drawing a circle on the ceiling with your knee. Try 5 clockwise, and 5 anti-clockwise. Then repeat on the other side. Try and keep the pelvis level in the exercise to focus the movement in the hip joint.
This can be performed laid down, as in the picture. Or sitting on the floor or in a bed. Start with both knees bent if you are laid flat. Straighten one leg out until it is straight. Then bring it back up to it’s bent position. Repeat 5 times on each side.
If you’re doing this standing it would be a good idea to hold onto something for support. It can also be done sitting or laying down. Circle your foot and ankle 5 times in a clockwise direction, and then 5 times in an anti-clockwise direction. Try and move to the fullest extent of your range of movement.
Again do this standing, sitting or laid down, whatever suits you. Circle the wrist 5 times in a clockwise direction, and 5 times in an anti-clockwise direction. Repeat on the other side.
Keep an eye on your posture. If you hold your body in a balanced way, then hopefully you can reduce the stress placed on all your body tissues.
Think about sitting and standing up straight, try and avoid slouching.
Imagine you have a cord attached to the top of your head which is pulling you up and stretching your spine.
Relax your shoulders.
When you’re standing still. Think about trying to have equal weightbearing between both feet.