Bed Exercises for RA
It’s difficult to stay optimistic when you wake up stiff and sore, so improve your outlook and your comfort level with the right techniques right away. Take advantage of those first moments of the morning to melt tension and prepare your body with therapeutic breathing, effective yoga stretching and helpful focus bed exercises for RA.
Breathing for Focus and Relief
Begin by taking a slow and deep breath into your belly, then feel your abdomen fall as you let out a long, slow exhale. Try to match the length of your inhale and exhale (a balanced, controlled breath is more effective for relaxation) and continue in this manner for a couple of minutes before you do anything else. Meditative breath is particularly good for stress relief, helping you clear away nagging thoughts and start your day off in a positive light.
Yoga Poses to Help your Flexibility
Once you have your meditative breath, begin to do some simple stretching while you’re still in bed. Passive yoga poses are great tools to combat rheumatoid arthritis pain and stiffness, specifically those that lengthen, twist or gently bend the spine:
- Simple Twists. A great way to stretch your spine, hips and sides of the body, and a helpful exercise to increase range of motion. There are a number of ways to modify the spinal twist, but the basic action is to keep one leg straight while you bend your other leg and bring it across your body, gently pressing it towards the bed with your hand while you turn your head the other way. Alternatively, you can bring both knees to your chest and move them to one side while you turn your head the other way (and keep your shoulders grounded).
- Child’s Pose. An important recovery position in a yoga practice, child’s pose moves the breath into the back of the body to stretch the spine and surrounding muscles. Simply sit on your heels and fold your body over your knees, resting your head on the bed and letting your arms fall by your sides. Feel each breath expand and contract your back.
- Yoga Mudra. This type of mudra is thought to help the mind find focus and to increase the flow of energy through the body. Sitting on your bed or pillow, raise your arms in front of you, then bring them behind your back and clasp your hands. Now squeeze your shoulder blades together, and slowly bend forward from the hips until your forehead touches the mattress. Breathe slowly as you either raise your arms behind you towards the ceiling, or let your hands rest on your tailbone.
There are dozens of passive yoga poses that will stretch your muscles without straining your body, and you can choose whichever ones work best for your particular discomforts. If you’re feeling up to it, try out a beginner’s yoga class one day to get an idea of all the therapeutic poses that may help you.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
If you wake up in particularly rough shape, you might want to ease into your yoga stretches with some progressive muscle relaxation. The idea is to tense your muscles before you allow them to relax, which will bring greater relief: beginning at your head and working down to your toes, pick out a specific muscle group, tense the muscles for 10 seconds, then release. This can take a few minutes or an hour, depending on how stiff and uncomfortable you feel.