Exercise is sometimes the last thing an arthritis sufferer wants to endure, because it hurts! The painful truth, however, is that you must move those joints! Exercise is what will keep joints mobile and lubricated. Exercise prevents stiffness, and, if you are unfailingly diligent, exercise will prevent deformities.
The kind of exercise an arthritis sufferer needs is called range of motion exercise. Range of motion is the distance and direction a joint can move to its full potential, or, as far as it will go. Pain, swelling, and stiffness can limit your range of motion, and give you trouble doing normal activities. Range of motion exercises are gentle stretching exercises that aim to move each joint through normal-to-maximum range of motion. Your practitioner can give you some suggestions as a place to start.
T’ai Chi and Chi Gung (also called Chi Gong) are two fantastic exercise plans for sufferers of arthritis, because the goal is to gently move the joints slowly, as far as they will go. You will find that many classes are available in Reno, Carson City, and Lake Tahoe. Martial Arts schools in your area generally include a T’ai Chi class. In Lake Tahoe, the Lake Tahoe Wellness Center provides T’ai Chi classes, as does the School of Tao Martial Arts. T’ai Chi is like medicine to your aching joints; it will soothe and lubricate them. They will get stronger.
Chi Gung is similar to T’ai Chi, but it is performed very, very slowly. Chi Gung is a spiritual practice, and, if not offered in the area near you, it can be best studied with a Chi Gung Masters video. There are many wonderful videos available, and those who’ve practiced it for a long time swear the practice has cured them of many debilitating illnesses, including arthritis. The exercises are beautiful, and are accompanied by music and poetry that soothes the soul while you also soothe your aching joints. Using these practices, you can begin to heal yourself.
If your arthritis isn’t too bad, and isn’t yet causing you wincing pain, you might do very well to enroll in a yoga class. Nearly every fitness center in Lake Tahoe includes a yoga class. It would be best to visit the fitness center and talk to the instructor. A friend named Loretta glows when she raves about her “old lady gentle yoga class.” Some yoga is more conducive to arthritis healing than others, and a yoga master would know which is best for you. If there is a Senior Center near you, that would be the best place to start, and speak to the yoga instructor.
The main thing is to move, even though you might not want to do so. There are medicines your practitioner can prescribe to help you feel better, and there are herbs that can greatly comfort (see other articles written by this Reno fitness examiner on black cohosh, aloe vera juice, and turmeric for arthritis). Glucosamine sulfate and MSM are helping many sufferers, also, but the best healers are you, and gentle movement. Move and be well, everyone!