Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a disease that causes swelling and pain in the hands, wrists, knees, and feet. Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) can make daily tasks difficult. However, exercises are so important for maintaining the good function and flexibility of the joints.
Water exercises or aquatic therapy are strongly recommended for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The buoyancy and warmth of the water give an ideal low-impact exercise place.
In this post, we’ll look at the benefits of aquatic therapy and exercises for rheumatoid arthritis.
Why Water Exercises Work for Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are some reasons why exercising in warm water is good for people with rheumatoid arthritis:
- Buoyancy reduces body weight – Warm water surrounds the body and gives natural buoyancy. This floating effect takes pressure off the joints, allowing for better mobility.
- Water warmth relieves muscle spasms – Warm water helps relax muscles and decrease spasms and stiffness. The warmth also increases blood flow to deliver nutrients to joints and tissues.
- Water resistance builds strength – Pushing and pulling against the water’s natural resistance helps improve strength and endurance without straining the joints.
- Low-impact environment – The water’s buoyancy protects joints from impact while allowing a range of motion. Low-impact exercise improves flexibility without more joint damage.
- Social support – Many water exercise classes allow for group classes. Exercising with others gives social support and motivation.
- Studies Show Aquatic Therapy Benefits rheumatoid arthritis
Research studies show the benefits of aquatic therapy for rheumatoid arthritis patients:
- A 2013 review concluded that water exercise improves mobility and quality of life for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Another 2023 study showed water-based resistance training increased muscle strength in rheumatoid arthritis patients more than land-based training.
Best Water Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Here are some top water therapy exercises recommended for rheumatoid arthritis patients:
- Walking – Walking through chest-deep warm water gives gentle resistance. Use underwater treadmills for low-impact cardio.
- Leg kicks – Hold onto the pool wall or kickboard. Gently kick legs back and forth to build leg muscles.
- Arm movements – Stand in chest-deep water. Lift arms overhead, out to sides, across the chest. Work all ranges of motion.
- Water aerobics – Follow a water aerobics class for cardio exercise. Change moves to your comfort level.
- Stretching – Warm water helps relax muscles for better flexibility. Stretch hamstrings, calves, shoulders, and other tight areas.
- Water jogging – Jog in place with a flotation belt for a high-intensity cardio workout without joint stress.
Tips for Starting Water Therapy
If you’re interested in trying water therapy, keep these tips in mind:
- Discuss with your doctor if this is appropriate, especially if you have heart issues.
- Start slowly and gradually increase time and intensity.
- Try different pool temperatures to find what feels best. Warm water around 83-88°F is usually recommended.
- Use a pool wall or water tools like noodles or kickboards for stability.
- Wear water shoes or socks for pool traction and safety.
- Stay hydrated before and after pool sessions.
- Apply moisturizer after getting out of the chlorinated water.
Give Water Therapy a Try
Living with rheumatoid arthritis brings many daily challenges. Water therapy gives a safe, low-impact form of exercise that can improve mobility, strength, and life quality. The buoyancy and warmth of the water make it an ideal place to move with less pain.
Studies continue to show the benefits of water exercise programs for rheumatoid arthritis patients. If you can access a warm water pool, try water therapy. Work with an instructor to make an exercise plan that matches your fitness level and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. With regular sessions, water therapy can help manage rheumatoid arthritis and keep you active.
If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rheumatologist OnCall provides a comprehensive and integrative approach to care. We offer specialized treatment tailored to your needs, empower patients through education on nutrition, provide online physical therapy and mindfulness practices, and strive to help you achieve the best outcomes.
At Rheumatologist OnCall, our goal is not just to diagnose and treat but to give you the knowledge and tools to manage your Rheumatoid Arthritis. We aim to take a personalized approach so you can live your fullest life.
Contact Rheumatologist OnCall today to learn more about our integrative Rheumatoid Arthritis program. Our team is here to develop a customized plan to effectively treat your symptoms and help you thrive with this condition.