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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown

Janet Aylott

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant


What other exercise can I do with Rheumatoid arthritis?

What other exercise can I do instead of swimming etc? I have tried exercise tape but as I suffer with rheumatoid arthritis I find it painful after 10 minutes in my feet ankles and knees. I do walk the dog but cant walk for more than 30 minutes before the pain starts.


Our expert says...


There are options you can do but I would suggest you consider more stable exercises then those choreographed in an exercise tape. It will also require trial and error to see what exercises aggravate your particularly affected joints and what range of motions you can do pain free. I would recommend you have a look at the home exercise library on the website and try some of the exercises, especially the core exercise and upper body options that will take stress away from your painful lower body joints. In addition, I would suggest two exercises in particular:

1) Shoulder bridge - the description of which can be found in some of the existing answers to questions within the forum as well as in the home legs workout article on our website, so I would strongly urge you to read through the detailed teaching points and try it.

2) Bodyweight squats - this is essentially a straight-forward movement but one that the majority of individuals tend to get wrong, putting excess stress through the knee joints and lower back. It is also however, an absolutely basic movement pattern that we require on a very regular basis in everyday life (e.g. sitting and standing from a chair or the car) which is why it is so important to be able to squat effectively, protecting the knees from excess stress. This exercise will act as a pre-habilitation exercise, improving the way you move and reducing the excess stress on the arthritic structures in your knee.

To squat you must ensure the following:

- feet face forwards (not turned outwards)

- You must keep your tummy muscles pulled in (activated) throughout the movement (this is to protect your lower back from working unecessarily)

-You keep your bodyweight on your heels throughout the movement - this prevents a habit of loading the toes and knees (a likely pattern if your knees show arthritic changes)

-You MUST squeeze your butt muscles as tight as possible to perform the upwards movement, from squat to standing

Ok, so with these key points in mind the movement is a simple matter of sticking your butt backwards and bending your knees untill your legs reach approx 90 degrees, (this would be roughly eqivalent to reaching an average height chair and you could even have one behind you to use a guide as long as you didn't actually put any of your bodyweight on it). Bend forwards from the hips as you squat to counterbalance and ensure your knees DO NOT go over your toes, you should be able to see them throughout the whole movement.

When you reach a range of motion that is comfortable, (and pain free), then squeeze your butt (as mentioned above) to stand, keeping your weight on your heels and your abdominals drawn in throughout. Aim to perform 10-12 repetitions then rest, followed by another set. This exercise paired together with the shoulder bridge would be a great combination that could be performed on a daily or every other day basis. You shouldn't experience any pain if your technique is correct and technique is crucial, hence my rather specific teaching points! :-)

Long-term these kinds of exercise will improve and maintain your mobility and strength through the lower limbs and give you the control over your exercises to ensure you can do it pain-free.

Hope this helps


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