Stretching is particularly vital for individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) since changes in bone shapes also change the shape of the connective tissue and muscles around the bones. Likewise, lengthening these muscles also help reduce pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, stretching also lubricates the joints as well as improves and maintains range of motion.

Gentle and Slow is the Way to Go

The most important thing to remember when stretching is to avoid overstretching because joint degeneration could result in joint instability that will make it easier for anyone to overstretch without even realizing it. With that said, stretch within the confines of your current range of motion and gently and slowly ease into each stretch, especially if you feel significant pain when stretching.

The key is to focus on every single movement to avoid accidentally jerking the parts you’re stretching, and physicians in Clive, IA agree to this reminder. It’s crucial that you keep stretching even during flares to maintain your flexibility because if you allow your pain to keep you from stretching, it could atrophy the muscles surrounding your joints.

The Bare Essentials of Stretching

Find a comfortable spot to stretch that has no to low carpeting. Wear light and comfortable clothing and don’t wear any footwear. Try to stick to an easy 30-minute stretching flow routine since it will take repeated effort to fully loosen tight tissues. If you’re starting out or getting back into stretching after some time, consider breaking up your routine into short, five to 10-minute sessions throughout the day instead of going at it all at once.

Stretch Every Single Body Part

You might think that you just need to stretch your fingers, ankles, or wherever you feel pain, but keep in mind that every single body part is interconnected. This means that if you feel tightness in your hips, your glutes, calves, and other muscles will be shortened and would also feel fairly tight, which in turn pulls on your feet and toes, as well as your upper back and neck. Similarly, tightness in the upper back can constrict your neck and girding that protects your abdominal organs. Put simply, there’s an effect to everything so it’s crucial that you stretch all your muscles.

Warm Up First Before You Stretch

In workout routines, stretching is considered as warm up, but those with RA can benefit from doing a separate warm up before stretching. Take note that warming up is done to relax the entire body and that when you have tight muscles, it will be harder for you to stretch them, so warm up first.

Listen to Your Body

group of three women stretching on the grass

When stretching, you’ll want to ease into each stretch and stop when you feel tension. Don’t ever push yourself when you’re feeling pain during a specific stretch. Otherwise, there’s a chance that you could tear something, which in turn would result in more pain later on as your tears heal. Rather than powering through, just stop, check yourself for several minutes, and resume stretching once your pain subsides.

Be aware of what your body is trying to tell you and you’ll be a master at stretching in no time — yes, even if you have rheumatoid arthritis.