For many people with arthritis, morning is the most difficult part of the day. Waking up with stiff joints or joint pain is a common complaint. Although it may seem like the hardest time of day to get moving, doing a few stretches in the morning can give you a more limber start to your day.
It only takes a few minutes to stretch and warm up your muscles and joints. But for the best results, the key is to do arthritis stretches every day. Taking a warm shower before or after stretching can also help you feel more flexible and limber.
WebMD asked experts Matt Hyland, PT, PhD, MPA, CSCS, president of the New York Physical Therapy Association, and Sharon Kolasinski, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, for stretching tips for people with arthritis. Here's what they said.
Stretches for Arthritis in the Back, Hips, and Knees
These three basic stretches will help loosen your back, hip, and knee joints. You can do all three of these stretches right in bed. Or, if you prefer, you can do them on the floor. These stretches should be gentle enough for everyone -- including people who have had knee or hip surgery. But if you have any questions, ask your doctor.
Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back with your left knee bent and your left foot flat on the bed. Bend your right leg and place your hands behind your right thigh. Lift your right leg into the air and straighten it as much as you can, using your hands to gently pull your leg toward your chest. Hold for about 30 seconds and then slowly release. You should feel the stretch in your lower back and the back of your leg. Repeat this stretch on the left leg and then repeat 2 to 3 times on both sides.
Single knee to chest stretch: Lie on your back and bend both knees. Your feet should be flat on the bed. Take hold of your right knee with both hands and gently pull the knee toward your chest. You should feel a stretch in the back of your leg and lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds and then slowly release. Repeat this same stretch with the left knee and then repeat 2 to 3 times on both sides.
Piriformis stretch: Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the bed. Cross your right ankle on top of your left knee. Wrap your hands behind your left knee and gently pull your knee toward your chest. You should feel a stretch in the back of your right leg. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds and then slowly release. Change sides and repeat this stretch with your left leg crossed on top of your right knee. Repeat 2 or 3 times on both sides.