It’s a horrible fact of life; for arthritis sufferers, movement is often very painful and for arthritis sufferers, movement is absolutely essential. Lack of exercise automatically adds weight. Weight increases the stiffness and pain of arthritis. So, what to do?
Well, I’m not going to tell you to eat ten servings of fruit a day and drink sixteen glasses of water though it would be terrific if you could do that. No, my approach is a little simpler. And little is the operative word. My system is a very common sense approach to minimizing your pain and decreasing your weight and doing both just a little at a time.
Every morning, you get out of bed. Before you even get to the bathroom, stretch. Just raise your hands as far above your head as you can. Hold that pose. Do five stretches. Initially, you may not be able to get your hands above your head at all. That’s OK. Just strech as far as you can, holding the pose for just a few seconds. With each passing day, you’ll be able to reach a bit higher and hold the pose just a little bit longer and that’s so good for your body.
In the shower, turn your back to the spray. Knead each shoulder with the opposing hand. If you can’t reach, don’t worry. Make the effort each morning. Eventually, you’ll be able to reach and the reaching and kneading, under hot water, will be beneficial for your finger joints and your shoulders.
Breakfast. Forget canned or packet juice. They have added vitamins but the fresh enzymes are long gone and it’s the enzymes we need. So include fresh fruit or freshly squeezed fruit juice. In the kitchen, bend your knees when opening drawers. Do this till it becomes automatic. It’s a little thing, but you might bend one hundred times a day. Think of the cumulative benefit!
Work. If you work at a desk, stretch when you can. Get up and sit down periodically. If you eat lunch at your desk, take a ten minute walk at lunch time every day. If you go out for lunch, pick a restaurant five minutes walk away and walk there and back.
Lunch. Include fruit and water. Make this a good meal. It will give you energy for your afternoon’s work. It should be your main meal. I know, I know, most people have their main meal at night. Since we’re trying to decrease our weight as well as reduce pain, we need to eat least closer to bed time.
Dinner. Include fruit and water. I’m not going to tell you what and what not to eat. Eat what you know is sensible and not too much of that. Remember, the ideal is to complete digestion before going to bed. If you watch television after dinner, get to your feet during the commercials. Put your hands on your hips. Turn first to the right and then to the left. If you can’t turn, that’s OK. Make a movement, however small to the right and to the left. Do this every evening. Eventually, you will be amazed that your body has actually become supple and it’s a pleasure to move.
Snacks. Fruit, yogurt and water. Absolutely NO soda. Soda, diet or otherwise is verboten. It’s all empty calories. Forget alcohol also. Same reason. However, I don’t think wine is all bad. A glass of wine (just one) with dinner is OK. Provided you’re not on medication, of course.
Real exercise. Walking is wonderful for arthritis sufferers. Start with ten minutes daily and go on from there. You need cross trainers or shoes with soft, flexi soles. These used to be expensive. Not any more. I wear a $15 version and they’re perfect for the job. Of couse the ultimate exercise is swimming. If you have a private pool, oh lucky you! Swim every day. Don’t just float around. Swim laps, increasing the number every day. If you don’t have a pool, and can afford it, join a gym. Again, don’t just float around. Swim with purpose. Increase the number of laps every session.
Now all this is virtually painless but it will have marvellous results over time. You’re not trying to be Miss World or Mr. Universe. You’re trying to reduce both pain and weight and, believe me, results after one month will motivate you to greater effort. All you need to do is increase you efforts just a little every day. Good health!