A joint pain condition called osteoarthritis has been affecting more than 15 million adults annually and India contributes 22% to 39% to the share of global numbers. It is a condition that affects the knees, hands and hips and seniors are the most afflicted by it. The average age for the onset of knee problems among Indian women is 50 years while for men it is 60 years of age.
Joint pain and arthritis can have debilitating effects on daily routine. Be it bending to pick up a heavy object or plain and simple walking, all these can become difficult due to joint pain. However, it is important to keep moving to ensure that joint stiffness doesn’t set in and that the range of motion of the joint isn’t reduced. Therefore, it is important to incorporate simple exercises or activities into daily life to find relief from symptoms and improve balance and flexibility.
Some of the joint pain friendly exercises that seniors can perform with ease are:
Stretching – Older adults must perform regular stretching exercises to maintain range of motion and improve flexibility of their joints. These are low-impact and can be done every day sitting in a chair or while lying in bed. They include exercises like shoulder rotations, leg raises, neck stretches and lower back stretches among others.
Riding a stationary bike – Riding a bike is a low-impact exercise that can focus on improving range of motion and decreasing pain. It puts less stress on your joints, helps you lose weight, avoid chronic pain and improves muscle strength. Starting with 10 – 15 minutes a day is a great way to begin.
Gardening – Again, gardening is a low-impact activity. As you water and prune your garden, you focus on building strength and flexibility. It also helps you get exposure to the sun which in turn strengthens your bones and improves balance. It is an ideal form of physical exercise as it involves the whole body during the activity. It requires you to constantly move and change positions and keeps the muscles engaged thus improving mobility.
Cooking – Cooking is a fun and innovative way to stay active. New technological tools make it cooking less strenuous for seniors. Trying out new recipes, combining exquisite foods and inviting friends and family is a great way of being active. However, seniors must remember to take frequent breaks while cooking and keep in mind their posture while chopping vegetables (it is preferable to sit while doing so) and cleaning dishes (reduce the weight on your knees and back by resting one foot on a step stool).
Crafts and arts – A creative way to stay active, arts and crafts can not only stimulate the brain but also improve coordination. Practicing these skills involves the hands and arms and help build muscle strength. It is excellent for stress relief and socialization and thus for improving the quality of life.
Knitting / Crocheting – Just like painting and arts and crafts, knitting and crocheting involve the use of hands and arms. This helps improve flexibility of finger joints, keep the fingers limber and improve strength. To ensure that this activity does not cause flare-ups in pain, take frequent breaks, stretch your arms and fingers beforehand or use a heating pad on your fingers to keep blood circulation going.
Swimming – Swimming is the best way to strengthen your body without impacting your joints. As your weight is supported by water, building muscle and maintaining joint health becomes easier. Swimming also helps improve blood circulation thus reducing joint stiffness and pain. Seniors can also opt for aqua therapy – exercising in water for the same benefits.
These pain-friendly exercises and hobbies are a great way to keep active. However, they should be done keeping in mind your pain levels. If these activities aggravate your joint pain, you must relook at continuing them. A good way to make sure that the symptoms of pain don’t stop you from doing your favourite activities is by massaging your joints with an Ayurvedic oil. One such oil is the Zandu Ortho Vedic Oil which provides relief from symptoms of joint pain within 7 days. It is made with 20 Ayurvedic ingredients and oils like Mahanarayana oil, Mahamasha oil, Gandhpura oil etc. which have been used to relieve joint pain and stiffness since ages. As you continue these activities, please do keep in mind that if your pain aggravates and doesn’t subside with a massage or other remedies, it is time to consult your doctor or physiotherapist.