Morning Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Loosen Your Hips

Fight morning stiffness by getting your joints moving and warmed up before you get out of bed. Loosen your hips with this quick range-of-motion exercise. Lie on your back and roll your legs in until your knees are facing each other. Then roll your legs out. Repeat five times. Here are some more things you can do in the morning to help with your RA all day.

Loosen Your Shoulders

Wake up your upper body. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Lift one arm until your fingers are pointing at the ceiling. Lower the arm to your side and raise your other arm. Repeat five times.

Fight Pain With Music

Put on your favorite tunes. People with arthritis and other types of long-lasting pain who listen to music for an hour a day say they hurt less and have less disability. Doctors think music may cause the brain to release natural painkillers — and the type of music doesn’t matter. So crank up the country, or rock out to your heart’s content.

Lift Weights

Strength training — lifting weights — helps control arthritis pain by building stronger muscles to support your joints. You’re most likely to stick to any exercise routine if you do it in the morning. A morning workout also helps you burn more fat throughout the day. If you’ve never lifted weights before, check with your doctor first. It’s also a good idea to talk to a trainer about proper form.

Stretch in the Shower

Make a habit of taking a long, warm shower every morning. To ease stiffness even more, do some simple stretches while the water is warming your muscles and joints. Shrug your shoulders, roll your neck, and circle your wrists. If you’re worried about balance, place a lawn chair in the shower and stretch while seated.

Heat Up Your Clothes

Don’t let your joints go cold when you step out of the shower. Run your clothes in the dryer while you’re bathing, so they’ll be nice and toasty when you get dressed. The warmth will fight stiffness and help get your body ready for the day’s activities.

Boost Balance With Tai Chi

Tai chi can help prepare your mind and body for the day. Research shows this gentle form of exercise relieves arthritis pain and improves balance. When done in the morning, it may also help your focus. For a tai chi program specifically designed for people with arthritis, contact your local Arthritis Foundation office. Sign up for a class or get a DVD to use at home — no special equipment needed.

Walk With a Purpose

A morning walk is one of the most powerful tools for managing RA. Walking nourishes the joints and strengthens the muscles that support the joints. It also gives you energy, and helps you keep a healthy weight. To keep motivated, give your walk a purpose. Meet up with a walking buddy, walk your dog, or stride to the local coffee shop.

Use Errands for Exercise

When you have too much to do to fit in a walk or workout routine, combine exercise with errands. Park far from the supermarket entrance and carry your own groceries if you can. Take the stairs at the mall, or walk to a distant store to check out the window displays. If you tend to get tired in the afternoon, schedule your errands for early in the day.

Steer Clear of Pain

A few modifications can make driving with RA more comfortable. Wear weight-lifting gloves if you have trouble gripping the steering wheel. Install a running board to help you step in and out of the driver’s seat. And trade in your keys for a remote that unlocks your car and starts the engine. These small changes can add up to less pain and stress at the start of your day.


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