Exercise for Arthritis or Arthralgia to Reduce Pain

fast_and_slow-300pxMy physical therapist told me something profoundly hopeful:  “People think of arthritis as being something that they can’t change.  But you can affect change on the process.  What you do can change your outcome.”  It is incredibly helpful to exercise for arthritis pain management.

Exercise for Arthritis or Arthralgia pain management.

I hurt.  I hurt if I’m resting and I hurt when I’m walking and I hurt after a full night of sleep.  Chronic disease hurts and sometimes I just want to stay under the covers and not move.  I’ve been on daily prednisone for years, and that contributes to muscle wasting and bone density loss.

Degenerative spine and some herniated disks caused my back to hurt.  Uncomfortable all day at work, I couldn’t bend well, and had trouble with things like tying my shoes.  I finally visited the physical therapist.

I think this is key – to start with physical therapy.  I noticed improvement over the months I went.  Strengthening the muscles that support my spine, core and joints gave me better balance and a lot less pain.

Finding My Motivation

The epiphany was when I uncoupled exercise from vanity.  When I did that, I found the motivation to go to the physical therapist or the gym and to keep going back for my health even if I don’t perceive that I look different.

Working out makes me feel amazing!  I’m so happy with myself each time I go and when I finish, I look forward to when I get to go back.  Its my time to focus on myself.  When I’m there, I think of how I am making progress, strengthening my heart, and building the muscles that support and protect my joints.  When I need a little motivation because I am hurting more than usual or hurt more right after coming home from the gym, I think of how much better I feel overall.  Its the trend, rather than the daily fluctuations.  I exercise to save my life.  I need it even more than someone who is healthy because I’m so much further behind in my health.  I can’t get rid of my autoimmune disease but I can be healthy in other areas.

What worked:

Starting very slow by going to physical therapy. That gave me a jumpstart so I didn’t have to start from zero. Joining a gym and having the routine planned out for me. Going right after work before stopping home. Bringing my clothes and changing at the gym. Sipping water throughout my workout. 15 minutes of cardio to warm up. Calculating my recovery heart rate.   Strength training with the machine for around 35 minutes. Then back home to put ice on the parts that like ice and use a heating pad on parts that like heat.

When I have a flare, I really try not to skip, but I listen to my body.  I go slower and concentrate on form and being careful so that I don’t get hurt. I’m always surprised that I feel better after working out with a flare – but I do!  If I can’t make it to the gym, I don’t sweat it (ha ha), but i make a plan to go at my next scheduled time.

Do you exercise despite an autoimmune disease or chronic illness?  How has it worked for you?  What are your tricks and what is your motivation?

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