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Osteoarthritis & How Pilates Can Help You

Posted on 1st August 2019 by

Osteoarthritis (OA) affects over 10 million people in the UK alone. OA can cause joint pain and discomfort where the smooth surface of the joints wears away over time, often referred to as “wear and tear”. Knees and hips are 2 of the most commonly affected joints.

Pilates for arthritis

If you have pain caused by OA, you can enter a bit of a negative cycle, where your pain stops you being so active or makes you fearful of activity, you move and exercise less and your muscles become weaker and your joints stiffer. This in turn can cause your more symptoms.

However, research has shown that exercise is the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and increasing movement in patients with OA.

What this means is that it is perfectly safe and in fact, highly recommend to continue exercising and being active, even when you have pain or stiffness with your OA. If you’ve never exercised, starting activities that will strengthen your muscles will be extremely helpful.

Pilates is an excellent choice of exercise for people who have OA, as it is a gentle, low impact-based exercise, that combines weight-bearing with range of movement and strengthening exercises. Pilates can also be adapted to suit each person, tailoring the exercises to each person’s abilities within the limits of their movement and pain.

By having stronger muscles supporting the joints, you will be able to move and function more efficiently, which longer term will reduce the level of pain and discomfort you may experience. Over time, you may find that this has an impact on other activities, such as walking further or being able to climb the stairs more comfortably.

Physio and Pilates Instructor Kim, has put together some beginner level Pilates exercises you could try if you have OA in your knees or hips.

#1 Clam Level 1

  1. Lie on your side with your shoulders and hips stacked, with your underneath arm outstretched in alignment with your trunk. Ensure your back is in neutral and your centre is engaged. Bend your hips to approx.45 degrees and bend your knees to 90 degrees.
  2. INHALE to prepare.
  3. EXHALE, lift the top knee upwards keeping the feet together.
  4. INHALE, lower the top knee onto the bottom leg.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

#2 Hip Twist Level 2

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent up in the Pilates Rest Position. Legs hip width apart, shoulders drawn down and in and your neck long. Centre engaged.
  2. Place your arms out to the sides just below shoulder height, palms facing upwards. Connect your legs together and hold a small block or light book between your knees.
  3. INHALE to prepare.
  4. EXHALE, roll both knees to the right, continue to roll your pelvis, waist and then lower back towards the right. Finally, roll your head and neck towards your opposite shoulder, keeping your neck long.
  5. INHALE and hold.
  6. EXHALE, roll your head and neck back to the midline. Finally, roll your lower back, waist, pelvis and then legs back towards the midline.
  7. Repeat alternating sides.

#3 One Leg Stretch Level 1

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent up in the Pilates Rest Position. Legs hip width apart, shoulders drawn down and in and your neck long. Centre Engaged.
  2. INHALE to prepare.
  3. EXHALE, slide your left heel forwards along the floor.
  4. INHALE, slide your left heel back along the floor.
  5. Repeat alternating legs.

#4 Scissors Level 1

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent up in the Pilates Rest Position. Legs hip width apart, shoulders drawn down and in and your neck long. Centre Engaged.
  2. INHALE to prepare.
  3. EXHALE, slide your right foot inwards towards your sitting bone and float this leg into tabletop.
  4. INHALE and hold the tabletop position.
  5. EXHALE, lower your right leg to the mat.
  6. Repeat alternating legs.

If you have OA and would like some guidance and support on exercising, getting more active and what it’s recommended you do to help you be active with OA, please give us a call on 023 8025 3317 to have a chat.


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