Kittle: Guidelines for exercising with arthritis pain

When you’re in pain, your body can change from stress as muscles become tense, posture can become poor and you don’t sleep well.

Arthritis is a painful disease affecting one in six people.

Among the most common complaints for those battling arthritis pain is that it is emotionally draining, frustrating and it generates feelings of fear and anger.

When you’re in pain, your body can change from stress as muscles become tense, posture can become poor and you don’t sleep well.

Seniors feel fatigue from enduring arthritic pain, and often become  afraid to exercise fearing they’ll do more damage than good.

But all individuals with arthritis should be encouraged to manage their arthritis through self-research and making good decisions to be in the best possible health.

Part of that self-management includes a safe slow progressing and low impact program.

Start with what you can do safely, free of pain.

Throw that old saying, no pain no gain, out the door—it’s very important to realize if you have pain for more than two hours after exercising, you’ve done too much.

There are ways to increase or decrease intensity in an exercise class by changing the speed of the exercise, lightening or increasing resistance.

An appropriate exercise program, whether in the pool or on land, should begin with slow and controlled range of motion exercises to limber and loosen up stiff and achy joints.

This will release what’s called synovial fluid, which acts like a lubricant to the joints.

The strengthening part of the program should involve good posture while activating your core and involve low to moderate intensity.

A good idea is to alternate between upper and lower body exercises to keep from becoming quickly fatigued.

The cardiovascular or aerobic part of your program should always involves low impact activities that don’t place your joints at risk.

The exercise should be somewhat difficult at around 50 to 60 per cent  maximum heart rate. The recommendation is 30 minutes accumulated exercise per day but can be broken up into three sets of 10 minutes.

Another important part of your program should also include balance and core exercises.

The last component in an exercise program should include stretching for flexibility.

Stretches should include all major muscles, be slow and gentle holding 20 to 30 seconds and stretch to tightness but not to pain.

Some examples of low impact exercise options for the arthritic individual can include walking swimming, cycling, low impact aerobic classes, circuit training, Pilates, yoga, tai chi and warm water pool classes.

Remember the 4Ps in managing your pain and fatigue:

Planning—respect your pain and plan daily activities accordingly

• Priorities—if you’re having a bad day be kind to yourself and take some things off your list and do the tasks that are most pertinent.

• Pacing—balance work with rest and listen to your body

• Posture—whether you’re sitting, standing or walking always tries to be mindful of your posture, keeping your back straight, shoulders down and back and core activated; and don’t forget to breathe.

For more about adopting a good standing posture and sleeping better at night, check out the extended Fitness For Seniors column on the Capital News website, www.kelownacapnews.com.

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