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Swimming and Arthritis

By August 23, 2019October 30th, 2020Chennai Ortho
Swimming and Arthritis

Warmth support and relaxation

Swimming and arthritis may not seem like a great combination but water exercises can be the most helpful and pleasant for people affected by arthritis. You can also try knee exercises for arthritis.

Water can provide warmth and support (buoyancy) that can facilitate the exercise of arthritis-affected joints.  Soaking in hot water enables relaxing muscles which can then make exercises and daily activities easier to perform.  Relaxed muscles can also create an overall sense of comfort. Pools also allow arthritis patients to relax and frequently exercise their joints in the company of others. Pools give more room than spas, enabling a wider range and more vigorous exercises.

Benefits of water exercises

Keeps joints moving

When you have pain in your joints, you may want to keep them very still as moving can be painful. However, immobilizing or not using your joints will only cause the joints, ligaments and muscles to lose motion range and weaken over time. Muscles can also shorten and tighten, making you feel more pain and stiffness and less capable of doing the things you want to do.

Regular exercise helps maintain the movement of joints, restores and retains flexibility and strength,  protects joints from further harm. Exercise can also enhance the coordination, strength, and capacity of a person to execute daily duties, which may lead to an increased sense of self-esteem and fulfilment.

Water exercise is a gentle way to exercise muscles and joints. Water buoyancy decreases stress on the joints and promotes free movement. Water can also act as resistance to muscle strength building. Consult your doctor to determine whether water exercises are compatible with you.

Forward arm reach (flexion):

Raise one or both arms forward and upward as high as possible. If one arm is very weak, you can help it with the other arm.

Sideways arm reach (abduction):

Slowly raise both arms out to the side, keeping the palms down. Raise only to shoulder (water) level. Then lower arms.

Arm circles (combined motions):

Raise both arms forward until they are a few inches below water level. Keep both elbows straight. Make small circles (about the size of a softball) with the arms. Gradually increase circle size (until the size of a basketball). Then decrease. First make inward, then outward circles. Do not raise your arms out of the water or let them cross.

Elbow bend (flexion/extension):

Bend the elbows and the thumbs to the shoulders. You do not have to touch. Relax elbows and straighten down along side of you.

Knee bend (flexion/extension):

Slowly raise one foot up to straighten out your knee. Hold straight 3 seconds.

Knee to chest (combined stretch):
Sit erect. Lift one knee and hug towards chest, hands under the thighs or over the knee to assist with the stretch.

Spread eagle hip (abduction with knee extension):

Sitting on the edge of the seat, straighten one knee. While holding it straight, slowly move it out to the side, hold 3 seconds then bring it back to the center. Repeat with other leg.

Knee lift (hip and knee flexion/extension):

Stand with back or left side against pool wall. Bend right knee, bringing thigh parallel to the water surface. Straighten the knee; then bend it again. Lower leg, keeping knee bent. Repeat on left.

Calf stretch:

Stand with left side to wall, holding wall with left hand for balance. Stand straight with legs slightly apart and left leg forward of right. Keeping body straight, lean forward slowly letting left knee bend. Keep right knee straight and heel on bottom. Court 5. Return to starting position. Repeat with right leg forward, right side to pool.

Side leg lift (hip abduction and adduction):

Stand with left side to pool wall, holding wall with left hand for balance, knees relaxed. Swing right leg out toward center of pool and back to midline. Do not cross in front of left leg. Repeat with left leg–right side to wall


Walk normally across or in a circle in the pool. Swing your arms as you walk.

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