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Exercises for Limbering Up Stiff Joints

A man and woman stretching.

If you wake up in the morning with stiff joints, or your joints stiffen when you have to sit for a while in a car or on a plane, exercising can help loosen up your joints. Regular exercise keeps you flexible and eases the pain of conditions such as arthritis. Regular exercise also strengthens the muscles around your joints and helps you to stay flexible. Contact your doctor before doing exercises for stiff joints.

Upper Body

Sit or stand facing forward, with your shoulders squared and your arms at your sides. Turn your head slowly to one side. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly face forward. Turn to the other side. Look up, then look down. Gently rotate your head clockwise, then counterclockwise. Stretch one arm over your head, then the other arm, then both arms together. Roll your shoulders forward, then back. Bend your elbow and touch your fingers to your shoulders, then straighten. Put your hands on your hips and bend at the waist to the left. Straighten, then bend to the right.

Lower Body

Sit in a chair and straighten one leg out in front of you. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your foot to the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Rock your hips from side to side, putting your weight on one hip, then the other. Sit facing forward, then twist your torso and look over one shoulder. Hold as you feel the stretch, then face forward again. Repeat on the other side. Stand facing a wall. Press your palms flat against the wall, and lean forward to feel the stretch at the back of your thighs and calves. Hold for a count of 10 , then straighten.

Fingers and Toes

Open your hand and spread your fingers wide. Hold, then release. Fold each finger, one at a time, into your palm to make a fist. Extend your arms and hold your hands up as if signaling "Stop." Then fold your hands down toward your wrists as far as they will go to stretch the backs of your hands. Rotate your wrists back and forth. Sit in a chair and point your toes. Flex your foot, pointing with the heel, then point your toes again. Rotate your ankles. Move your feet from side to side.

Tips for Exercising Joints

Move slowly and don't force the movement. Move until you feel a slight stretch, but back off if you experience pain. Repeat each exercise three to 10 times. Start with a few repetitions and build up over time. Remember to breathe while you exercise. Some people find it helpful to count out loud as they exercise. Establish a routine for your exercise. Start at the top of your head and move down your body, or start with your feet and work up. This will help you remember to exercise each area of your body. You can repeat the exercises during the day. Some people like to start the day with exercise to help them loosen up, and repeat the exercises in the evening.


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