Exercising your arthritis away

Arthritis affects millions of people in the world and disturbs the muscles, joints and bones. Once you are diagnosed with arthritis, there is no way you can get away from exercise. Physical workouts and arthritis pain are inversely proportional to each other — the more the exercise, the less the pain.

The mere idea of walking on a treadmill or doing yoga asanas or other kinds of exercises scares arthritis patients when stiff and painful joints are already bogging them down. People go to orthopaedics for pain relief and medication eases your pain for some time but doesn’t give a permanent solution to pain and stiffness.

On the other hand, exercising helps to:

• Aid joint lubrication and nourishment

• Ease your joint pain and stiffness

• Improve flexibility

• Build muscular strength 

• Improve or maintain the density of your bones  

• Help you maintain a healthy body weight.

Making exercise a daily habit can cure arthritis pain. Here are few exercises that an arthritis patients should follow:

Pilates

Pilates is good for stabilising your joints and strengthening the muscles that support them. Lay on your back, bend your knees and place your arms along each side of your body. Exhale through pursed lips as you contract the abdominals and lift your pelvis. Inhale through the nose and hold the position. Exhale to lower your pelvis back to the ground and repeat the exercise.

Yoga

Yoga packs two great benefits for arthritis patients. Using deep relaxation techniques, like yoga nidra, promotes a healthy immune system and helps reduce joint inflammation.

Walking

Walking is a great bone strengthening and aerobic activity. Walking builds endurance if you walk longer, but it’s okay to do 10 minutes at a time.

Cycling

Whether you’re riding outdoors or sitting on an upright or recumbent exercise bike, cycling avoids the pounding of high-impact aerobic activities, but still packs great cardiovascular benefits. It also strengthens the quads.

Water workout

In a lap pool (usually four-feet deep), walk from one side of the pool to the other at a brisk pace. If you work out in a health centre with an underwater treadmill, your trainer can adjust the speed of the exercise. The buoyancy of the water relieves pressure on your joints. Consider exercising using a water jogging belt. It suspends you above the pool floor so you can move without putting any pressure on your hips, knees or ankles.

Weight-lifting

Start by doing bicep curls with light hand weights, no more than 2 to 5 lbs, and build your endurance over time by adding weight and sets. Stronger muscles help you perform daily activities.

Stretching

You can stretch sitting in a chair, if that helps. And you can use a Stretch-Out Strap, a nylon strap with built-in loops for your hands and feet.

Hand stretch

Spread your fingers as wide as they can go, then make a fist, and repeat that stretching and squeezing motion. If you’re in the water, open and close your hands underwater, or try squeezing a foam ball. Let it absorb the water before squeezing it out again.

Zumba

It burns calories without jarring your joints. Taking twice-weekly classes will help you learn the choreography.

Elliptical training

Riding an elliptical machine is not for the exercise novice. It’s ideal for people in good cardiovascular condition who want a higher-intensity, no-impact challenge. Start at a constant ramp height and constant resistance and make adjustments as you get stronger. Or choose a pre-set cross-training programme. Adding arm movements will amp up the cardiovascular benefit.

Suspension training

With suspension training, you leverage your own body weight from straps hanging from an anchor point. Place your feet in the stirrups and hold your body up with your hands or resting flat on your forearms. Holding a plank position works muscles in the abdomen, back and shoulders. Work up to a 30-second hold with a 20-second rest between reps.

(The writer is MD, Anytime Fitness)

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