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Rheumatoid Arthritis and the Importance of Stretching

By Donna Stark

If you are like most people, you may think that the steps to achieving optimal health are maintaining regular visits with your doctor, consuming a healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise and sleep. But there is also another component to reaching your health goals that a lot of people tend to forget, and that is stretching! Stretching and lengthening your muscles is critical for the optimal function and mobility of everyone's body, but even more so for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.   

Be Sure to Stretch!

Stretching your body's muscles every day can help minimize the pain that often accompanies rheumatoid arthritis. Even if you don't want to move during those days filled with painful flare-ups (who could blame you?), it's still very important to maintain your joint's range of motion by stretching them out and keeping them mobile. So avoid the risk of potentially complicated future issues and learn how to stretch properly! Take a look.

  • Know the basics - If you are new to stretching, start off with daily sessions about 10 minutes in length and then add more time as your comfort level increases. Be sure to wear loose-fitting clothes that aren't too confining and that you can freely move in. Also, choose an area that has plenty of space and is comfortable to move and spread out in.
  • Slow and gentle - When you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, take your time with those daily stretches! Joint degeneration can cause a host of problems, but more specifically, can lead to a lack of stability in the joints which can set up the perfect scenario for you to hurt yourself, so slow and steady wins the race here. 
  • Stop if you feel pain - We don't believe in the saying, "No pain, no gain" for this situation, so be sure to stretch only to the point where you begin to feel tension. Never push yourself up to and past the point of pain. If you do start to feel pain, stop and take a break, then try again but with less pressure. 
  • Stretch everything - What happens in one part of the body can affect another part, so it is important to stretch everything! By stretching every day, you will be able to improve both your range of motion and your mobility in all parts of your body.

Stretch for Better Days

Rheumatoid arthritis can certainly leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, but by stretching daily, you can decrease its pain and increase your quality of life, and that's an important part of staying healthy. So keep those regular visits with your doctors, consume a healthy diet, and get plenty of exercise and sleep ... just don't forget to stretch every day too!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Bloomington, Minn.

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