A Beginners Guide To The Best Exercises for Managing Pain - Part 3: Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is the third part of our series of recommendations for exercise based on types of pain – in the previous posts, we looked at exercises for lower back pain and for fibromyalgia . In this post, we’ll take a look at exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints, deformation, and pain. The joints affected by RA can range from the fingers to the knees or hips, so it’s important to exercise all parts of your body. Exercise helps slow down the painful increase of stiffness in the joints – keeping you at a higher mobility for longer.

Hand stretches are exercises that you can do if you suffer from arthritic pain in your hands. They can keep your hands from stiffening and developing even more pain if you do them regularly. See some examples below, from the New England Journal of Medicine:




Weight lifting or suspension training may be beneficial for those that are used to exercising regularly and enjoy a challenge. Suspension training is a type of exercise using special suspension ropes that helps you use your body weight to develop strength, flexibility, and balance.

Cycling is a terrific way to get moving without requiring a gym membership or extensive instruction. Most of us learn how to ride a bike as children, so the skill is one that could have already been acquired. It can also get you around town or to be away to explore new places.

Yoga, walking, or tai chi are exercises that have a lower impact but help with increasing range of motion and decreasing pain.

Gardening is one way to exercise recreationally with RA (it can also yield some fresh fruits and veggies!).

Whatever exercise to try, it is important to understand your pain first. Discuss the source of your pain with your physician and physical therapy before including exercise in your routine. Aside from discussing the types of exercises with your healthcare provider, make sure to cover the intensity and frequency of the exercises that you are thinking about trying. It is important that you do not over do it, as this can be a setback to pain management.

Have you found exercises that have helped with your RA? Tell us about it in the comments!



Health. 16 Gentle Exercises for People with Arthritis. Retrieved from: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20706071,00.html

Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network. Retrieved from: https://www.rheumatoidarthritis.org/living-with-ra/exercise/