Stretches and range-of-motion exercises aim to improve the mobility and flexibility of your joints. To increase your range of motion, move a joint as far as it can go and then try to push a little farther. These exercises can be done any time, even when your joints are painful, as long as you do them gently.
Here are four range-of-motion exercises that you can do at home.
Open your hand, holding the fingers straight. Bend the middle finger joints. Next, touch your fingertips to the top of your palm. Open your hand. Repeat 10 times with each hand. Next, reach your thumb across your hand to touch the base of your little finger. Stretch your thumb back out. Repeat 10 times.
Lie on your back with your hands at your sides. Raise one arm slowly over your head, keeping your arm close to your ear and your elbow straight. Return your arm to your side. Repeat with the other arm. Repeat 10 times.
Sit in a chair that is high enough for you to swing your legs. Keep your thighs on the seat and straighten out one leg. Hold for a few seconds. Then bend your knee and bring your foot as far back as possible. Repeat with the other leg. Repeat 10 times.
Lie on your back, legs straight and about 6 inches apart. Point your toes toward the ceiling. Slide one leg out to the side and then back to its original position. Try to keep your toes pointed up the whole time. Repeat 10 times with each leg.
To learn more about how exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, check out Living Well with Osteoarthritis, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
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