There are over 100 types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, gout and fibromyalgia. Several of these forms can cause joint stiffness, inflammation and arthritis pain, making even the most simple of tasks increasingly difficult. Rising from bed in the morning is agonizing. Climbing up out of a chair is torture. So what are you supposed to do? How can you exercise when you can barely even move?
Movement produces a lubricant in your body that no pill or surgery can produce. The lubricant helps your joints move and eliminates joint pain in your knees, hips, shoulders, hands and back. A patient of mine, Carolyn, who was 62 years old and had so much pain in her knees that she chose to sit in a chair all day versus go through the strain of getting up. What she didn’t realize was that sitting still was actually making her arthritis condition much worse because you need to move to produce a lubricant that eases joint pain. That’s right, there’s no pill or surgery that can produce this lubricant. By the time she sought treatment, she was in a wheelchair and no longer able to walk.
The goal of arthritis treatment is to reduce inflammation, minimize pain and increase the ability to function. A functional workout can help do all of these things safely, by increasing blood flow and keeping our muscles and joints strong. With an exercise program that started Carolyn off with chair exercises and chair walking, she was able to regain her mobility and was no longer a prisoner of her wheelchair.
Walking helps protect areas of the body that frequently suffer painful and debilitating degeneration — especially knees, hips and shoulders. Starting a walking workout will build strength and stamina to help you face each day with vigor and vitality.
Start Off Slow and Increase as Tolerated
Start around the block, then around the neighborhood and then just keep walking around until you work your way up to a power walk. Take bigger steps and swing your arms. As the walk becomes easier, add light hand weights and you’ll strengthen muscles that support your joints and reduce joint pain.
Wear Good Fitting Shoes
Wear good fitting, comfortable closed toe shoes with good support that allow you to walk from heel to toe. Stiff shoes or old worn out shoes can cause you to have improper gait and that can cause head to toe joint pain. As a general rule, replace your shoes every 6 months.
Integrate Breathing Exercises into your Walk
Your body loves oxygen. The more oxygen you take in the healthier you get. Your heart is a muscle. When you put it to work it gets larger and stronger just like a bicep in your arm when lifting weights. This exercise makes your heart pump more blood that’s full of oxygen through your body even when you are at rest. This will reduce joint pain.
Every person over 90 is always asked, “How’d you do it?” And every person over 90 responds, “I kept moving. That’s it.” Your body is a biological machine. If you let it sit around for years unused and then try to start it up it’s going to cough, wheeze, sputter and come to a grinding halt. But if you work it, maintain it, nourish it with premium fuels, it will stand the test of time.
Written by: Suzanne Andrews, Founder of Functional Fitness with Suzanne Andrews, PBS TV
About the Author
Creator of the Arthritis Relief Walking Workout DVD, Suzanne Andrews, a licensed Rehabilitation Clinician, helps you ease joint pain with the only walking workout you can do sitting or standing. Filmed amongst the stunning Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, you choose the 1,2,3 or 4 mile walk.Sharing is Caring!