You should exercise. Sound familiar? I know. I hear you loud and clear. You woke up this morning in pain. Trying to muster enough energy to even get out of bed felt impossible. And getting ready for your day felt like you just ran a 5K. I get it. I have arthritis, too, and I know what you’re thinking. “Wait, didn’t I just wake up? I should have more energy than this! What did I do in my sleep to feel this exhausted? Oh, that’s right. I didn’t sleep well. My ‘pain-somnia’ kept me from getting any good sleep. So now you’re telling me to go exercise? Ugh. That’s supposed to help my arthritis pain?”The short answer: YES! The truth is, an ever-growing body of research shows exercise is one of the best ways to treat our arthritis. But for those of us living with it 24/7, it can be one of the last things we want or even feel able to do. Been there, done that, going through it all over again. As a patient, I know how hard it is to get moving when I have pain. As an occupational therapist, I know how hard it is to get someone motivated to get moving, and I understand how staying physically active can make a huge difference to our health.
Want to make the most of your workout? Fuel up with the right foods. “What you eat and drink can affect how you feel and how quickly you recover,” says Sonya Angelone, a San Francisco–based registered dietitian who works with athletes. Here’s her advice on what to have before, during and after exercise. Continue reading Best Foods to Eat Before, During and After Your Exercise Routine
While stretching is an important part of any workout, fitness studios known as stretching gyms make it the focus. Stretching instructors help lengthen and loosen muscles, either working one-on-one with clients and physically adding gentle pressure to deepen stretches, or by guiding a class through a series of stretches with props, such as foam rollers and bands.
“There’s no question that stretching benefits people with arthritis,” says Cory Feger, a physical therapist in Louisville, Kentucky. “It improves range of motion, lubricates joints and increases blood flow to muscles.” But are these new gyms and classes safe for people with arthritis? While they can be useful, Feger recommends proceeding with caution. Here’s how:
- ASK INSTRUCTORS ABOUT THEIR QUALIFICATIONS. What’s their background and experience working with people who have arthritis? Many instructors are personal trainers, massage therapists or yoga instructors but may not have experience with arthritis or chronic pain patients.
- ALWAYS WARM UP FIRST. This allows deeper stretches for a longer period of time and decreases the risk of injury. Get moving with light exercise, such as walking. Or do dynamic stretches, such as leg swings and arm circles, which prepare your body for specific movements.
- GO AT YOUR OWN PACE. Don’t try to keep up with everyone else in a class. “You don’t want to overdo it,” says Julie Jasontek, a physical therapist and supervisor of rehabilitation services at Mercy Health in Cincinnati. This may lead to an injury, such as a strained muscle.
- AVOID BOUNCING. To lengthen muscle fibers and increase flexibility, hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, then release and repeat. These are called static stretches.
- DO STATIC STRETCHES AFTER WORKING OUT. After exercise, muscles are warmed up. Stretching also boosts circulation. As part of a cooldown, it also lowers your heart rate, which may help aid recovery.
- DON’T PUSH TOO HARD. Mild discomfort is normal, but stop if you feel a sharp or intense pain.
- MAKE IT A REGULAR HABIT. To increase flexibility, stretch at least five times a week.
You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: One of the best things you can do for arthritis is to lose excess weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control, two out of three adults with arthritis are overweight or obese. Research shows that while diet and exercise combined are most effective for dropping pounds, dieting alone helps more than exercise alone. No one’s saying it’s easy, but evidence shows it pays off. Here’s how it can help. Continue reading HOW SHEDDING SOME POUNDS HELPS ARTHRITIS
Buying into some commonly held fitness beliefs may keep you from making the most of your workouts – or even lead to injury. Experts debunk six persistent myths. Continue reading 6 Fitness Myths Busted
Getting out of bed when you have arthritis can produce a chorus of creaks and pops. Morning stiffness is an all-too-common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Continue reading Your Arthritis Morning Routine
You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: One of the best things you can do for arthritis is to lose excess weight. Research shows that while diet and exercise combined are most effective for dropping pounds, dieting alone helps more than exercise alone. No one’s saying it’s easy, but evidence shows it pays off. Here’s how it can help. Continue reading How Shedding Pounds Eases Arthritis Symptoms
You have a list of tips and self-management tricks in your arsenal. But maybe there’s that one you know will make you feel good. We asked our readers and followers “What is your No. 1 self care habit?” Here are their answers. Continue reading You Said It: Never Fail Self Care Habit
Want to get more active? Use a pedometer. Results of a 21-week study reported in Arthritis Research and Care in 2017, found pedometers helped patients with rheumatoid arthritis walk about 1,500 more steps a day. Continue reading Add a Pedometer to Your Walking Routine
When it comes to exercise, sometimes less is more. Research suggests a workout that’s just 15 minutes can pay off – if you do it right. These workouts often involve high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – short bursts of hard effort, which have been shown to burn more calories than the slow and steady approach, says Matt Likins, an orthopedic physical therapist and partner of 1st Choice Physical Therapy in Michigan.