Several years ago I went through a stressful patch in my life with over programming (driving kids everywhere), too many volunteer commitments, selling/buying house, moving to a new city. And so, amongst all of that I wasn’t taking care of myself all that well: I ate a lot of prepackaged convenience “ vegan” foods, lived on caffeine, often skipped meals, wasn’t consistent with exercising, didn’t get enough sleep or even down time. I was about 8 pounds underweight (when I am stressed I don’t eat). So my health was at an all time low. On top of that I started having severe perimenopausal symptoms: delayed cycles, hot flashes, extreme fatigue, urgency to pee, joint pain. Fun times.
Many of those symptoms were eased by slowing down, cutting out a few programs from the family schedule, making healthy meals at home, eating animal protein, taking a compounded T4 hormone for my hypothyroid. But my joint pain remained. It wasn’t awful, just an achiness in my hands, feet, and knees, and sometimes in my low back. Especially in the mornings.
Another thing I added was lifting weights again. Light at first, 30 minutes 3x week at home. Nine months after that I progressed to the point of needing to join a gym to lift heavier weight. I noticed recently I rarely have that joint pain anymore.
All these years in the fitness industry, I knew exercise helped ease arthritis pain and stiffness, but now I had first hand experience on it, and that felt amazing! I had to research why…
Exercise helps your joint pain by:
- Strengthening the muscles around your joint, so the joint is better supported
- Movement provides nutrients to the tendons and ligaments, by producing synovial fluid to the joints so they glide smoother
- Provides flexibility in the tendons, ligaments, and, muscles, which eases that feeling of stiffness
- Helps maintain strength in your bones, weight bearing exercise builds much needed bone density
- Expending more energy during the day helps you sleep better at night, better sleep means less inflammation
- Being stronger makes daily tasks easier, hence giving you more energy to do other things
- Helps you stay lighter, as extra weight on your body puts more stress on joints
- Exercise helps balance your hormones, imbalance in hormones can cause inflammation in your joints
The trick to starting is to ease into exercise. People with arthritis should have a medical evaluation before starting exercising.
Begin with range of motion exercises that promote stability and mobility to help with posture, as alignment is crucial for strength training.
Strength training is important for those with arthritis, however start with bodyweight and progress from there, always mindful of proper form.
Moderate intensity aerobic exercise, work on building a solid, aligned body first, then add aerobic exercise, start with low impact please!
Things to Remember:
- Keep impact low if you have arthritis and inflammation
- Start with body weight exercises
- Apply heat to relax your joints and muscles before you begin exercising.
- Move gently. Make sure you warm up well!
- Be mindful. Proper form is needed, or you might put stress on your joints.
- Ice afterwards, if you need.