Feel Confident in Your Step, Even With RA!

These rheumatoid arthritis-friendly, at-home exercises will better your balance skills and help prevent falls.

Lori Murray
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If you’re not steady on your feet, life can get tricky—worrying about walking on uneven terrain can get in the way of a fun, active life. The good news? Your balance can be improved by practicing a few moves every day. Start slow and allow your body to get used to feeling a little off-kilter while doing these—and get your doctor’s okay before starting.

Try these moves while you’re standing...

  • The flamingo: Look straight ahead and place your hands on your hips or out to the side. Lift your foot and balance on one leg for 10 seconds to start, gradually working up to 30 seconds or more. If you’re feeling unsteady, hold a chair or countertop for support. As you get better, balance with your eyes closed, or without holding on to anything. Timesaving tip: Balance on one leg while doing everyday activities like brushing your teeth or watching TV.
  • The heel-toe rock: Stand on your toes for a count of 10, then rock back on your heels for a count of 10. If needed, you can hold on to something, then let go as your balance improves.
  • The tightrope: Imagine there’s a straight line on the floor (you can also use a seam on the floor or put down masking tape). Put your hands out to your sides at shoulder height, with your palms up, and pretend you’re walking along a tightrope. Try to look straight ahead the entire time. Walk forward by placing your feet heel to toe, keeping the seam or line in the middle of your foot. Go back and forth five times. When that gets easy, try walking backward.

Or try these while you’re sitting and watching TV...

  • Sit to stand: Use both hands to push yourself off the chair. Do this a few times, then push off using just one hand, then no hands.
  • Toe spread: Keep your feet flat on the floor, then lift and spread your toes. Repeat 10 times.
  • Toe curls: Keep your feet flat on the floor, then curl your toes under as though you’re raking leaves with them. Repeat 10 times. You can also place your toes on the edge of a towel and gather it under the arch of your foot with your toes.
April 2013