Arthritis and osteoarthritis are both part of rheumatism, a disorder that affects no less than 12 million French people. To prevent them as to relieve them, you have to move… Provided you perform appropriate exercises. Follow the guide.
About one in two French people suffer from joint pain, according to an IFOP survey for Inserm and the association Ensemble contre les Rhumatismes, conducted in 2016. Among them, more than 12 million people are affected by rheumatism – or one in four.
Joint diseases are not without impact on the daily lives of patients who suffer from them. Disorders sleep, increase in sedentary lifestyle and the resulting pathologies (cardiovascular problems, cancer, etc.) are among the frequent consequences of joint pain, which is also the leading cause of sick leave in France.
Joint pain: physical activity is your ally
With 9 million people affected in our territory, osteoarthritis is the most common rheumatism. It is a mechanical pathology, which corresponds to wear progressive cartilage in one or more joints. The bones then end up rubbing against each other, which causes pain, especially during movement.
An evil that should not be confused with arthritis, which is an inflammatory disease. This inflammation causes the secretion of substances (quinines) which gradually destroy the joints. This results in pain when resting, mainly in the hands and feet.
In both cases, the patient suffers and may be tempted to reduce his physical activity to the strict minimum… However, this is precisely what should not be done. Even if it seems counterintuitive, in the event of joint pain, it is necessary move ! Even light exercise can both prevent and relieve them. And this for many reasons.
Getting active prevents and relieves joint pain
First of all, “maintain a BMI below 25 kg/m2 would be likely to reduce osteoarthritis by 27 to 53% in the general population ”, according to the Swiss Medical Review. In addition, “maintaining, or even improving, adequate muscle strength, motor control and proprioception, as well as sufficient physical condition, can minimize joint constraints which will be increased in case of muscle weakness and fatigue ”. In other words, staying in shape helps prevent rheumatism.
And when these are already installed, physical activity could slow down their progression – provided, of course, that it is adapted to the pathology. In the case of osteoarthritis, for example, walking, swimming, Tai-chi or rowing are your best allies. Conversely, it is better to avoid exercises “involving impacts repeated too large or at too excessive speeds ”, indicates the Swiss Medical Review.
In the following pages, we reveal 7 stretches and exercises easy, which you can easily reproduce at home, to improve flexibility and mobility in your joints.
Rheumatism: stretching of the hands and fingers
Flexion and extension of the fingers
To prevent and reduce rheumatism in the fingers, you can do this very simple stretch. Make a fist with the thumb inside, and stay that way for 5 seconds. Then open your hand, extending your fingers as far as possible. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise ten times.
Do your wrists block regularly, or have lost mobility? To improve their flexibility, sit down and put your elbow straight on the table, palm facing the ceiling. Put your other hand on it and push gently towards the table, stretching your wrist backwards. Hold the position for 10 seconds, smoothly, then release. Do the same on the other side.
A variation, which can be practiced while standing, consists in extending the arm in front of you, palm facing the sky, then pushing it with the other hand, as if you wanted to bring the back of the hand closer to the arm – like in the photo above.
Finally, you can also stretch your thumbs. Bring both hands together in front of your stomach, at navel level, while keeping your shoulders down. Place your right thumb on your left thumb, and your right index on your left index finger, so as to form a kind of diamond. Then push your hands together, as if you want to bring them closer together.
Rheumatism: stretching the hips, knees and ankles
To improve the mobility of your ankles, nothing could be simpler! Stand with one hand resting on the back of a chair for balance. Lift the outer foot, point the toes, and rotate the ankle. Make 5 circles clockwise and 5 circles counterclockwise. Then change your foot.
Against osteoarthritis of the knee, it is important to stretch your quadriceps regularly. To do this, put yourself in the “serving knight” position: put the left knee on the ground, while the right foot remains flat on the ground, the knees forming right angles. In other words, the same position as for making a marriage proposal. Using your hand, bring your left foot towards your buttocks, while keeping your back straight – as in the photo above.
Lie on your back, legs straight, feet slightly apart. Turn your knees inward, without bending your legs, so that your toes are touching. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Then turn your knees outward. Also hold the position for 10 seconds.
Do you lack mobility in the hips? Sit on a chair, and put your right foot on a step or, failing that, a small stack of books. Tilt your torso forward, going as far as possible, while keeping your back straight. Return to the initial position. Repeat the exercise, this time raising the left foot.