pool to relieve joint pain

Hit the Pool to Relieve Joint Pain

Remember what it was like to walk without aches? Get that sensation again by taking your workout to the water. Doctors have been praising using the pool to relieve joint pain.

“Exercising in a pool provides nearly instant relief from pain and stiffness,” says Mary Sanders, PhD, a clinical exercise physiologist at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno. “Even if you don’t feel comfortable walking on land, the buoyancy of water gives you freedom of movement while providing support.”

Slip on your swimsuit and try these aquatic workout tips from Sanders.

Using the pool to relieve joint pain:

Start simple. Begin with a simple forward walk, with shoulders aligned over hips and hands at your sides. Lead with your heel, rolling to the ball of the foot, then push off with your toes. Swing your arms opposite your legs, pushing and pulling the water along your sides.

Shift backward. Research from Japan shows that walking backward in the water engages more muscles, especially around the spine, quads and shins, while also boosting heart rate. It also might help your balance. Start on your toes, then push down on the balls of your feet and roll to the heels, moving opposite arm and leg while pushing water behind you with your hands.

Hit the deep end. The more submerged your body is, the lighter the load on your joints. If you have arthritis in your shoulders or spine, keeping your upper body under water increases the fitness benefits, helping burn more calories while improving your mobility and range of motion. Wear a buoyancy belt to help you stay upright.

Be safe. Water shoes prevent slipping, webbed gloves add resistance to your workout and a buoyancy belt helps stabilize you.

The recommended water temperature for warm water exercise is 83 to 90 degrees, according to Cynthia Harrell, a physical therapist at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C. Most people find temperatures in this range to be comfortable and soothing to sore joints and muscles, which makes exercise easier. In general, the slower the exercise movements, the warmer the water needs to be for most people.

You may want to look into aquatic classes for people with arthritis at YMCAs, health clubs, hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Also, check with a licensed physical therapist who can give you guidance on appropriate levels of intensity, duration and frequency of classes.

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Don’t forget to ask your doctor about necessary precautions whenever starting a new exercise.

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5 thoughts on “Hit the Pool to Relieve Joint Pain

  1. Water exercises for arthritis really help to reduce chronic pain. It also helps to lift one’s spirits. I would recommend this for everyone (with a doctor’s permission of course).

  2. thank you, before a bad fall i was exercising with a trainer in my pool for trying to have my arms less flabby looking. then i had a bad fall and now i have arthritis which is osteo in my shoulder of which i never knew i had before. its wonderful to be in the water and if possible do the hot one too the vibration of the water is so good especially during the colder months.

    I enjoy your ideas for arthritis as i have alot of osteo arthritis.

  3. I’ve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my hip and have been advised I need a hip replacement. I have been taking anti-inflammatory drugs for nearly one year now and despite also being prescribed Omniprazole to protect my stomach, I have been having some issues just lately. I have been attending Aquafit classes and swimming twice a week and have found a great relief in this. So much so that I decided to experiment a bit by coming off my meds’ completely. I am now on day 4 of no meds and to be honest have found no significant difference in my movement and my stomach feels so much better too. Makes me wonder if the meds were actually doing anything at all . I feel a vast improvement in my walking as the muscles seem to be tighter making walking and moving easier. I think I’ve found a solution to cope for a while anyway and might be able to delay the op too for a while. As I’m 60 I didn’t want to rush into anything but it worries me as to when the right time will be for the hip replacement. I don’t want to wait until I’m in agony either. Any advice on this dilemma would be much appreciated. Thanks

  4. I swim 3 times a week and when I’m tired I walk I have a routine and try and stay for 35/45 mins each day I am a arthritis suffer Ostoarthits and fibro aslo I have chronic in my spine and have had two ankles replaced and have a lot more med problems but I’d have to write a book on them all I’m just trying to say don’t not give it a try as it does make you feel bett in mind and body start walking first and on from there good. Luck xxx

  5. I teach Arthritis Foundation water exercise classes at a retirement community. I have several students in their 70’s and 80’s tell me that they have found relief in shoulders, back and knees from exercising in the water. They can tell when they miss a few weeks and are eager to get back in their exercise in the water routine.

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