Arthritis Awareness Month May 2012
Arthritis awareness month is a great time to focus on finding fitness activities you can enjoy with maximum benefits and minimal joint strain.
To do this you need to use what I call the ‘Arthritis Activity Continuum’. At one end of the continuum are the activities and exercises that can be done by almost everyone. This might include activities such as walking, isometric Osteoball exercises and gentle seated stretches. On the other end of the continuum are the things that should only be done sparingly or for short bouts due to the greater load or forces on the joints. These higher continuum activities have a cost/benefit ratio. If done with control and proper progression they will help keep your body in peak condition. If done too often, or too intensely they can cause more joint harm (wear and tear) than good. Examples would be running, competitive sports, jumps and heavy weight lifting.
Then there are the many activities that fall between these two continuum ends. The question is, where is your ability and comfort range on the AA continuum?
As many arthritis suffers know, this can shift from day to day based on many factors including weather, time of day and overall health status. That means you need to listen to your joints and have a sliding scale of doable options to choose from depending on how you are feeling on any particular day and joint pain. Keep in mind that any activity is better than no activity at all for joint health. Finding the right variety and proper progression is key for managing arthritis joint pain. Try line dancing, golf, water aerobics or even a Zumba Gold class. The right supplements can also play an important role in joint maintenance such as a high quality liquid glucosamine and chondroitin, calcium and vitamin D and omega-3 essential supplements.
Quick Morning Routine to Get Started
Here is a quick morning wake up routine to start your day. It utilizes the progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) technique. This technique involves tensing and relaxing specific muscles or muscle groups in sequence. When done first thing in the morning this technique will act as a gentle full-body wake up call. At the end of a workout or day it can help relax your body and release stress.
- Lie on your back, tense then relax every one of the muscles in your body, starting with your feet and progress all the way up to your face and scalp.
- Hold the tension for about 5 seconds then release and move on to the next body part.
- When you’re done move right into tuck stretch for the hips and spine; hold one thigh towards the chest while tucking your shoulders towards your knee. Hold for a few deep breaths. Switch legs and repeat the hold.
- Follow this up with a full body traction stretch; reach both arms over your head with your legs outstretched, inhale as you pull away from the midline in both directions (like you on a stretching rack), exhale and release the pulling tension. Repeat a few times