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What are the Best Exercises for Bursitis?

By Patti Kate
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The best exercises for bursitis are strengthening and resistance type exercises. Stretching exercises also are a typical part of a recommended program. Exercises for bursitis that include some type of isometrics are also beneficial. Depending upon which part of the body is affected, exercise equipment may also be incorporated into an exercise routine and may be beneficial.

Although some physicians may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications for patients with bursitis, alternative treatments may be preferred by some individuals. Exercises for bursitis may help to strengthen tendons and muscles weakened by prolonged bursitis. Bursitis is a condition that inflames the bursa, a pouch-like structure joining tendons to skin and bone. When inflammation occurs surrounding a joint, pain and immobility may result. Without treatment, the joints may become weakened over time and function may become limited.

Any type of exercises for bursitis should begin with gentle stretching. This applies to all types of bursitis, including knee bursitis, hip bursitis, shoulder bursitis, and elbow bursitis. Flexing, then relaxing, muscles that surround the inflamed areas will help to avoid further stress. For bursitis of the knee, walking may help. Stair climbing may also help to strengthen the joints and tendons, but should be done under a doctor's supervision.

Other types of exercises for bursitis and tendinitis include swimming and cycling. Swimming is a good way to strengthen several muscle groups, including arms, shoulders, and legs. In addition to bicycle riding, a stationary bike may be used. This is a good alternative for days when the weather does not permit outdoor activity. Cycling is a good form of exercise to help with bursitis of the knee and ankle.

For bursitis of the shoulders, a set of shoulder shrugs may help alleviate stiffness and improve circulation. Rolling the shoulders in a backward motion is generally the preferred method. A physical therapist may instruct the patient further.

More exercises for shoulder and elbow bursitis include something called the pendulum swing and wall climbing. The shoulder swing is a simple range-of-motion exercise in which the individual swings his arm in circles while supporting the other hand on a flat surface. Wall climbing simply means the individual slowly crawls his fingers up the wall, allowing the arm and shoulder muscles to gentle become stretched. This should be done slowly and carefully to avoid further injury.

It's a good idea to apply ice to the affected area after any exercise workout. This helps to reduce inflammation and swelling that often occurs with bursitis. An ice pack can be applied for about 15 to 20 minutes, with the individual using caution not to let the ice come in direct contact with exposed skin.

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Discussion Comments

By Laotionne — On Apr 10, 2014

Did you know that there are 160 bursae in the human body? I had no idea there were that many. Their function is to reduce friction between tissue within the body. We most often here about the bursae in larger joints such as the knee, shoulder, elbow and hip because these are the joints that seem to give people the most pain.

By Sporkasia — On Apr 09, 2014

I have been an avid tennis player for most of my life. I started playing as a young child and have played the sport year round ever since. Because of the repetitive motions involved with the sport, especially those associated with a players dominant hand and elbow, conditions such as bursitis and tendinitis are not uncommon in players.

I have experienced bursitis and tendinitis both in my elbow. It is not uncommon for these two conditions to occur together. Though this combination is more common in the shoulder than in the elbow.

I have found that wrist extensions and bicep curls work well to help ward off the bouts of pain I sometimes experience. The curls and wrist extensions both should be completed with light dumbbells. You are not attempting to build muscle. You simply want to strengthen the affected areas.

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