Hand Arthritis Keeping You From Exercising? Try These 4 Modifications

Do you have hand or wrist pain that makes it difficult to bear weight through your hands during exercise? Sometimes with arthritis, putting weight through the palm of the hand in positions like downward dog, planks, and pushups can be pretty irritating. 

Oftentimes, people with arthritis will hold off on exercise with fear of damaging their joints or making their condition worse. However, it is generally the opposite! 

Exercise has been proven to help people with arthritis decrease their pain, improve strength, and in some cases prevent further joint damage. Therefore, it’s important to not let the fear of damaging the joints prevent you from exercise.

In this post, we have outlined some exercise modifications to reduce hand and wrist strain while working the same muscles…but with saving your hand joints!

To see these exercise modifications for arthritis as a video, check out our instagram reel.

1.) Mountain Climbers → Dead Bugs 

Arthritis Exercise Modifications: Mountain Climbers to Dead Bugs
Mountain Climbers to Dead Bugs

Mountain climbers are a great way to work the core and get the heartrate up a bit. But, bearing your body weight through the palms can often be uncomfortable or even painful for people with hand arthritis. 

Try opting for dead bugs, you’ve still working the core but eliminating the weight bearing position. 

For dead bugs, start by lying on your back– suck the belly button in to keep the back flat on the floor. Reach both arms up to the ceiling and slowly lower the opposite leg and arm. As you move through the position, the back should remain flat on the back. 

If you start to notice the back lift up at all or arch away from the ground, decrease the range of motion and return to the starting position. 

If you still want the cardio option that mountain climbers give you, opt for some high knees. High knees are another great option to engage the core and get the blood pumping. 

2.) Tall Plank→ Forearm Plank

Arthritis Exercise Modifications: Tall Plank to Forearm Plank
Tall Plank to Forearm Plank

Planks are a great way to not only work your core but your whole body. This isometric exercise can be easily swapped from a tall plank to a forearm plank position. 

Swap your tall plank for a forearm plank for a forearm plank. If you feel too much pressure through the shoulders try keeping the forearms parallel to each other with hands flat on the floor.

Sometimes keeping the hands clasped together can put increased pressure through the front of the shoulder. 

3.) Downward Dog→ Forearm Downward Dog

Arthritis Exercise Modifications: Downward Dog to Forearm Downward Dog
Downward Dog to Forearm Downward Dog

Do you ever do yoga and feel strain through the hands in the downward dog position? Try swapping for a forearm downward dog. 

In this position, you’ll still feel it in your legs, but won’t have the stress through the hands and palm.

4.) Push-up→ Wall push-up

Arthritis Exercise Modifications: Push-up to Wall Push-up
Floor Push-Up to Wall Push-Up

Whether you are doing your push-ups on your knees or on your feet, the pressure through the hands can be bothersome with hand arthritis. 

Start by placing your hands on the wall with feet an arm’s length away from the wall. Bend your elbows and lower your body closer to the wall. The more you move your body down the wall, the more challenging the push-up will be. 

If the wall push-up is too easy for you, try using an elevated surface like the armrest of a couch, a chair, or if you’re in a gym a step up. These options get your body closer to the floor and make it more challenging. 

Looking for more ways to exercise your arthritic hands? Check out our 7 Daily Hand Exercises for Arthritis.

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. You should not make any change in your health regimen, exercise regimen, or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Reactiv Inc. is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video, infographic, table, photos, or site.