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Exercises to Relieve Joint Stiffness

Your Health / Conditions / Pain / Exercises to Relieve Joint Stiffness

Published on Nov 22, 2017
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Authored by Pfizer Medical Team


If you’re one of the nearly 4 million Australians and 500,000 New Zealanders who suffer from joint pain, you know how difficult everyday tasks can be. Thankfully, the right kind of exercise can relieve some of your pain. Try these moves to help improve your range of motion and increase flexibility, which can make everyday tasks seem easier. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.​​​​​​​

Improve range of motion

1. Shoulder rolls

Stand with your arms straight and close to your body. Roll your shoulders forward 10 times. Then roll them back 10 times.

Side bends

2. Side bends

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and tummy tucked in. Reach your right arm up and over your head to the left, sliding your left arm down your left leg to your knee. Let your body lean into the stretch. (If you feel any pain, you're reaching too far.) Hold for a count of 10. Then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Hip swings

3. Hip swings

Hip swings: Stand behind and slightly to the left of a sturdy chair. Bend your knees slightly, and keep your hands on the chair for support. Slowly swing your left leg forward and then back. As you do, keep your back straight and try not to arch your spine. Repeat 10 times. Move to the right side and repeat 10 times with your right leg.

Hip swings

4. Trunk rotation

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Slowly rock both legs to the left toward the ground. Hold for a count of 10. Then, slowly return your legs to their original position. Do the same movement to the right. Repeat five times on each side, alternating to the right and left sides.

Trunk rotationHip rolls

5. Hip rolls

Lie flat with your knees straight and legs far apart. Roll your feet and knees toward each other so that you’re pigeon-toed. Then roll them out.


Increase flexibility

6. Hamstring stretch

Sit at the edge of a chair or bed. Straighten your left leg out in front of you and rest your heel on the floor or a small stool. Sit up straight. Then gently bend forward at the hips until you feel a gentle stretch on the back of your left leg. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing normally. Sit up slowly. Repeat on the right.


7. Quadriceps stretch

Lie on your right side. Grasp your left heel with your left hand. (Use a looped belt or towel if you have trouble reaching.) Pull your left foot toward your buttocks until you feel a gentle stretch on the front of your thigh. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing normally. Roll to your left side. Repeat with the right leg.

Quadriceps stretch


    1. What is arthritis. Arthritis Australia. Accessed 23/01/2017.
    2. The Economic Cost of Arthritis In New Zealand In 2010. Access Economics 2010.
    3. Exercise Helps Ease Arthritis Pain. Mayo Clinic. Accessed 23/01/2017.

    Last reviewed: 15/08/2019

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