Arthritis is one of the most common conditions that develops through ageing and is known to not only impact mobility but also the overall quality of life. An estimated one in seven Australians has some form of arthritis.
While there are medical treatments available, exercise can also play an important role in helping to ease arthritis pain and stiffness, especially low-impact exercises like Pilates, Tori Clapham, founder of Peaches Pilates in Bondi, New South Wales, tells Starts at 60.
She says Pilates is an incredible exercise option for arthritis sufferers as it can help loosen your joints and thus relieve pain. Clapham adds Pilates is one of the few exercises that allows you to build strength and endurance without causing more pain to already aggravated joints.
“Arthritis sufferers tend to avoid exercise due to the worry of causing more pain to their body, this is not the case when it comes to Pilates,” she says. “Pilates has been so successful in treating patients with arthritis that doctors are now recommending [it] as a treatment [option].”
So with the help of Clapham, we’ve rounded up the five best Pilates moves to help relieve joint pain. She recommends incorporating these moves into your daily routine at least three times a week, however, Clapham cautions that you should speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Clapham says the cat-cow pose is a stretch and release exercise that’s wonderful for the lower back and thoracic spine. This move is performed on your hands and knees. To get started, round your spine up towards the ceiling, and keep your gaze between your legs. This is your cat-like shape. Then, arch your back, let your belly relax and lift your head up. This is your cow-like shape.
Clapham says the pike is an effective exercise that can help loosen stiff joints in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, knees and ankles. To get started, Clapham says to start on your hands and knees. Lift your knees off the floor and place your head between your arms with your gaze between your legs. Using your upper body, push the tops of your thighs back and stretch your heels down, creating an inverted V shape with your body. Try to straighten your legs as much as possible without locking your knees.
“For those less flexible you can bend your legs on the inhale and straighten them on the exhale and repeat,” Clapham advises.
This is a weight-bearing strength exercise that targets your core, glutes and hamstrings, Clapham says, adding: “The quadricep is beneficial for those with back pain as it improves your core muscles and [helps] stabilise your spine.”
She says to start on your hands and knees, keeping your knees hip-width apart. Then lift one arm in front of you and the opposite leg behind you. Hold this for a few seconds and then repeat on the alternate arm and leg.
Clapham says horse kicks are great for those with hip pain as it loosens the hip joint and strengthens the muscles surrounding the hip. To get started, start on your hands and knees, keeping your knees hip-width apart. Using a kicking motion, lift one leg off the ground, keeping the knee bent at a 90-degree angle and the foot flexed. Lower the leg and then switch legs.
“Double leg lifts are a fantastic way to improve your posture, create a stronger core and alleviate back pain,” Clapham explains.
Begin by lying on your side with your legs slightly bent, then use your arms to support yourself up. Slowly lift both legs up off the floor before lowering them back down again without touching the floor.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.
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