Mornings Made Easy With RA

Waking up doesn’t have to be a pain with these moves.

Health Monitor Staff
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If waking up is difficult due to pain and stiffness, you’re not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, morning stiffness is one of the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. To the rescue: These gentle stretches you can do before you even get out of bed! Always get your rheumatologist’s okay before starting any new exercise program.

Lengthen your neck and shoulders
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your head comfortably relaxed on a pillow. Carefully straighten and raise your arms with your palms facing each other. While keeping your head on the pillow, exhale and reach both arms to the ceiling, allowing your shoulders to lift off the bed. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 10-15 times.

Tip! Keep your neck relaxed through the entire range of motion to allow your arms to fully lengthen both your neck and shoulder muscles.

Release your neck and back
Sit tall at the edge of the bed and cross both arms behind your head. Exhale and gently tilt your head and shoulders forward and hold for 5 seconds. Inhale and carefully arch backward as you pass through the starting position and hold for an additional 5 seconds. Repeat the range of motion 12-15 times.

Tip! As you shift forward and back, keep your abdomen tight to protect your lower back and strengthen your core.

Wake up your hands and wrists
Sit tall and rest your forearms comfortably on a pillow with your palms facing downward and your hands loosely grasped in a fist. Rotate both wrists outward as you stretch all 10 fingers open. Turn both hands inward and return fingers to a closed fist. Repeat 15-20 rotations.

Tip! Too hard? Simply rotate wrists outward and inward without incorporating the fist contraction. Too easy? Remove the pillow and hold your elbows in the air at a 90-degree angle while doing the move.

Exercises developed and modeled by Lisa Robins. Photography: Steven Trujillo of Trudge Photo, Phoenix, AZ, October 2011.

April 2013