Arthritis is one of those things that can threaten to stop you in your tracks. The pain in your joints can become overwhelming, and, since it hurts to move, you start to move less and eventually can find yourself moving as little as possible in an attempt to avoid the pain. While we understand and recognize that this may be what you WANT to do, we’re here to tell you there’s a better way to manage and even reduce joint pain.
Most people don’t sign up for pain- especially of the chronic variety- so it seems a little counter-intuitive to try and work through arthritis. But, think about momentum: imagine a large ball at the top of a hill, it’s balanced, maybe even stuck, and not going anywhere. However, even the smallest bit of energy can start that ball rolling, as the ball rolls down the hill it gathers momentum and moves faster and easier, with no added effort at all. Our bodies use momentum as well, which is one of the reasons your doctor reminds everyone to “eat right and exercise.” It’s much easier to keep momentum going than it is to start all over again.
Regular physical activity helps to keep your joints lubricated, which falls right into the momentum category. In the case of arthritis, the LESS you move, the MORE you hurt. Not the other way around. One of the key ways to combat arthritis is to work through the initial pain and not allow yourself to become sedentary. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this in a low impact environment. Some of our favorites are Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates group classes, Water Aerobics classes, and easy swimming. Moving in the water can help relieve the stiffness in your joints. Gentle strength training also helps support and strengthen the muscles around the joint- which can help to reduce joint stress and pain.
If you suffer from arthritis in your hands, here’s a gentle and simple exercise to try at home or at your desk. Hold your hands out, begin by bending the wrists up and down. While moving your wrists, spread your fingers wide, then slowly curl up into a fist. Repeat this several times for each hand, as often as you need to throughout the day.
Whether you choose a group class, a walk around your neighborhood, or just a simple hand routine- remember that you are taking time for your body and for self care as you move through the routine. It’s less of an “I can’t stand the pain and hate my hands/body,” and more of an “let me take care of my hands so they will return the favor.”
We wish you good health,
Columbia Basin Racquet Club
Photo Credit: Simon Blackley via Flickr