top of page
  • Writer's pictureFit For Life

Fit For Life Exercise Newsletter!

This week we will look at exercises for people with #arthritis in their #shoulders!

In newsletter 6 we briefly introduced the two most common types of arthritis we come across, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. We looked at the effects of this on hands and provided suggestions and exercises to help!

This week we are looking at arthritis in the shoulder and below we provide exercises and suggestions below for residents affected by shoulder arthritis.

How having Arthritis in your shoulders can affect you:

- Shoulder pain, stiffness, tenderness, swelling, loss of range of motion, grating sensation, bone spurs at a joint or joints

- Visible deformity

- Decreased function and/ ability in ADL’s (e.g. dressing, holding zimmer frame/stick)

Benefits of exercise for arthritis in the shoulders:

- Maintain or improve range of motion

- Decreased perception of stiffness and discomfort

- Strengthen the muscles around your joints

- Help you maintain bone strength

- Maintain independence and enhance your quality of life

Remember: When to exercise and when not to?

Don’t exercise: ​ During acute flares (periods of inflammation) ​

Do exercise: ​

- When symptoms are lowest​

- When pain medication is most effective​

Exercise Adaptations for people with Arthritis (ACSM)​:

- Begin slowly and progress gradually​

- Avoid rapid or repetitive movements of affected joints​

- Adapt physical activity to the needs of the individual​

- Use the TWO HOUR RULE:​ The Arthritis Foundation has a “2 Hour Pain Rule”, which they define as “If you have more arthritis pain (as opposed to sore muscles from exercise) 2 hours after you exercise than you did before, you've probably done too much and should cut back a little.

Other helpful suggestions:

- If the primary challenge for the person is ‘stiffness’ in the mornings, then range of motion exercises completed in the a.m. before ADL’s can help. And things like have an upper limb pulley or upper limb pedals in their room for them to use for a few minutes prior to ADL’s can really help (see images below).

- Velcro or adapted clothing may enable the person who struggles with dressing to maintain their independence.

- If arthritis affects just one shoulder or affects one shoulder more than the other, always put the most affected shoulder into clothes first. And always take the unaffected (less affected) shoulder out of clothes first.

- Hot/cold therapy. Heat can help to relieve feelings of stiffness a little and provide more comfortable feeling (e.g. soaking hands in warm water/using heat pads/cushions). Cold therapy (e.g. applying cold pack) can provide pain relief for a painful swollen joint. However, you must take extreme caution when using hot/cold therapy with Older Adults as they may have decreased sensation and altered skin/tissue health so would be at higher risk for burns!

- Review with the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) e.g. with the nurse to review palm skin integrity; with OT for specialized equipment; with the physio for individualized treatment or rehab.; and/or with the GP for pain relief (e.g. pain relief medications or injections).


Week 7 exercise program

Below you will find exercises that will help to maintain or improve range of motion and strength in the shoulders.

Warm up for 5-10mins, do the exercises, then cool down & stretch for 5-10mins! Do in sitting or standing (depending on individual’s ability), completing 1-3 sets of ~30sec duration on most days. Complete in a pain free, slow and controlled manner!

You can download and print the home exercise program here:

Fit For Life newsletter 7 HEP
Download DOCX • 404KB

Patricia O'Donnell GSR CAT BSc MSc

19 views0 comments
bottom of page