March 13, 2024

Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are common symptoms of arthritis that can make exercise seem daunting. However, stretching could make you feel better as long as you do it correctly.

Does stretching help with arthritis? Absolutely! Here’s more about how it helps, how to do it the right way, and how to request an appointment with Healthcare Associates of Texas if you need help managing this chronic condition.

How can stretching help with arthritis?

Decreased range of motion is a common symptom of arthritis. Many people with arthritis typically avoid exercise and other physical activity due to symptoms like joint pain and stiffness. According to the CDC, an estimated 23.7 million adults with arthritis report being less active due to having arthritis.1

Over time, if you don’t stay active with arthritis, the muscles surrounding your joints will become shorter. As a result, you may become less mobile and have difficulty walking. You may also gain weight due to being inactive.

However, moving your joints and stretching regularly may improve your condition. Stretching can help you improve and maintain a full range of motion. It can also help you avoid many complications of arthritis, including osteoporosis or bone loss.

When you stretch your muscles, the blood vessels surrounding them will widen to increase blood flow and circulation.2 This allows more oxygen to reach your muscles, which helps reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints. Stretching also causes your body to release more endorphins, which are “feel-good” hormones that naturally reduce pain—including joint pain associated with arthritis.

If your arthritis is localized to certain parts of your body, you can focus on stretches specifically targeting those areas. The one time you should avoid stretching with arthritis is when you are experiencing an acute or active flare in that part of the body.


Can stretching reduce arthritis pain?

Yes! In fact, the CDC reports that adults with arthritis who exercise can reduce pain and improve their functioning by about 40%.3 It adds that some physical activity is better than none, and that includes stretching.4

Stretching does far more for arthritis than just reducing pain and increasing your range of motion. It can boost your energy, help you maintain a healthy weight, and improve your mood.

How often should I stretch if I have arthritis?

Talk to your doctor before starting a stretching routine to relieve arthritis pain. Some doctors recommend stretching daily, while others may suggest stretching every other day or a few times a week.

Your doctor can review your medical history and discuss how often you should stretch based on your symptoms and the severity of your condition.

How to start a stretching routine for arthritis

If your doctor gives you the green light to begin a stretching routine, follow these tips to get started. These tips may also help you reduce your risk for injuries.

Start with active or dynamic warm-ups

Walking, jogging in place, and side-to-side lunges are examples of active or dynamic warm-ups. These warm-ups can increase your blood flow and muscle temperature. This makes your joints and muscles more pliable when you begin your stretching exercises.

Hold off on doing any static (stretch and hold) stretches until your body is properly warmed up. Doing static stretches when your muscles are cold may worsen joint pain and increase your risk for injuries. Save static stretches for the end of your workout as part of your cool-down routine to increase your flexibility.

Try other warm-up methods

As an alternative to doing dynamic warm-ups, you could experiment with other warm-up methods before you begin to stretch.

Try taking a hot bath or shower immediately before stretching to relax stiff joints.5 You could also try sitting in a heated pool, hot tub, or sauna. Or, apply a warm compress or heating pad to stiff and painful joints.

Stretch when you’re not in pain

You may get more out of stretching if you do it at the time of day you experience the least amount of arthritis pain. For instance, if your pain tends to be greatest first thing in the morning, save stretching for later in the afternoon or evening. Some doctors also suggest reserving your stretching for after you take your pain relievers.5


Prepare to feel some discomfort

It’s completely normal for stretching to cause some discomfort, even in people without arthritis. However, it is not normal to experience severe discomfort and pain.

While stretching, aim to reach a point of mild tension and do not go past the threshold of mild discomfort. If you experience any pain after stretching that lasts for two hours or more, scale back on your routine. Then, slowly increase the tension during your stretches until your body becomes more conditioned.

Experiment with different stretching exercises

You may not notice positive results from stretching until after you’ve been doing it for several days or weeks. Be patient, and understand that your symptoms likely won’t improve overnight. As time goes by, experiment with different stretching routines and exercises until you find those that work best at reducing your symptoms.

Tai chi, yoga, and pilates are among the top exercises favored by people with arthritis. These exercises combine gentle stretching with muscle-strengthening exercises that can gradually improve your condition. Some studios that offer these exercises may even host classes specifically geared toward people with joint pain and arthritis. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these types of exercise programs.

Remember: Stretching is only one component of arthritis treatment

Though stretching does have many benefits for arthritis, keep in mind that your treatment program should consist of other components. Good nutrition, quality sleep, and stress management are other lifestyle factors that may reduce inflammation and help you live more comfortably with arthritis. Sticking to your medication regimen is also essential to reducing your symptoms and managing your condition.

Request an appointment with Healthcare Associates of Texas today to receive treatment for any medical condition, including arthritis. We offer a variety of primary care services, including yearly wellness exams, screenings, and more.



  1. Number of Physically Inactive Adults With Arthritis in the United States Who Could Improve Physical Function and Pain Control by Exercising. (2020, September 3). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Hotta, K., Behnke, B. J., Arjmandi, B. H., Ghosh, P., Chen, B., Brooks, R. W., Maraj, J. J., Elam, M. L., Maher, P., Kurien, D., Churchill, A., Sepulveda, J. L., Kabolowsky, M. B., Christou, D. D., & Muller‐Delp, J. M. (2018). Daily muscle stretching enhances blood flow, endothelial function, capillarity, vascular volume and connectivity in aged skeletal muscle. The Journal of Physiology, 596(10), 1903–1917.
  3. Exercise to Ease Arthritis Pain. (2021, October 12). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. Physical Activity for Arthritis. (2022, January 5). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  5. Stretching to help arthritis pain. (2016, March 10). Harvard Medical School.

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