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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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Best Stretches for Arthritis Morning Stiffness

Stretches for Arthritis in the Arms, Shoulders, and Neck

These three basic stretches are a good way to loosen the joints of your upper body. You can do the first stretch in bed, but you’ll need to do the last two stretches while you’re standing.

Serratus punch: Lie flat on your back with your head on a pillow. Bend your knees if this feels better for your back. Raise both arms in the air, toward the ceiling with your palms facing each other. Keeping your head on the pillow and your arms straight, raise your shoulder blades off of the bed, as if you’re trying to touch the ceiling. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds and then slowly release. Repeat 2 to 3 times.

Corner stretch: This stretch can be done either in a corner or in an open doorway. Stand about 2 feet away from the corner or doorway. Place your hands at shoulder height on either side of the wall or doorway. Bending your elbows, lean your body weight into the corner or open doorway. You should feel this stretch across the front of your shoulders and chest. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds and then slowly release. Repeat 2 to 3 times.

Posterior shoulder and back stretch: Stand straight with both arms at your sides. Gently bring your right arm across your chest, keeping it straight. Take hold of your right elbow with your left hand and gently stretch your right arm across your body. You should feel this stretch in the upper arm and shoulder. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds and then slowly release. Repeat with the left arm and then repeat 2 to 3 times on both sides.

Stretches for Arthritis in the Hands

If your hands are affected by arthritis, these simple and easy stretches can help loosen up your joints and help increase mobility.

Towel squeeze: This stretch can be done with a small hand towel that is rolled up or a large sponge. Take the towel or sponge in one hand and squeeze. Hold for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat 10 to 15 times with both hands.

Finger extension: Take a rubber band and wrap it around all five fingers just below your fingertips. Gently spread your fingers apart as far as you can. Hold this stretch for about 5 seconds then release. Repeat 10 times with each hand.

Remember that though you should feel a slight pulling sensation or discomfort while stretching, the stretch should never hurt. If you feel any pain while stretching, talk with your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on May 24, 2014
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