Soothe painful joints with Pilates
It’s National Arthritis Week from 9th – 16th October, so I’d like to help you to find better ways to relieve or stop arthritic pain for yourself, a friend, a loved one or even a co-worker through understanding how movement and certain types of exercise can help manage pain and improve range of movement for arthritis sufferers.
According to Arthritis Research UK, arthritis is the biggest cause of pain and disability in the UK with 10 million people living in pain every day.
All forms of movement and exercise are good for everyone, no matter our age, gender or health conditions – movement is life!
But when you have arthritis, moving and exercise can often feel like the very last thing you want to or should do, it can feel as though exercise will only make your pain and ‘wear and tear’ worse. However, keeping your joints mobile and supple is key to slowing down the progression of arthritis in your joints and preventing it from starting in the first place.
Your muscles need to be flexible and strong to move the bones in your joints but what’s absolutely essential to prevent wear and tear of joints and pain, is having your joints in correct alignment.
What types of exercise should I be doing?
Some forms of exercise can make arthritis worse, so it’s vital to manage your pain by moving well and being aware of healthy movement patterns, posture, and ensuring your joints are in safe positions.
Moving with aligned joints gives benefits such as preventing back, neck and shoulder injuries, and can see you quickly on your way to becoming pain-free or at the very least far more mobile and in far less pain.
My moto for my business, Perfectly Pilates is ‘move well every day!’, and never is that more true than for those who live with bone or joint issues. Knowing how to move with your joints aligned and core engaged is crucial to preserving healthy bones, joints and cartilage.
Dr Philip Conaghan, a consultant rheumatologist, professor of musculoskeletal medicine at the University of Leeds, and spokesman for Arthritis Research UK, says that:
‘Arthritis causes varying degrees of pain so the natural instinct is to stop moving. But the best medicine is actually to exercise to strengthen the muscles, which help support the joints.’ – ‘Pilates or yoga classes are a good idea.’
Just get Moving!
So, although Autumn isn’t typically the best time to take up a new active hobby as walking or cycling outdoors becomes rapidly-less appealing with the cold temperatures and rain; but the damp and cold atmosphere that is so harsh on arthritis sufferers is exactly why it’s vital to stay active through the Autumn and Winter and not allow your joints to stiffen.
Taking up Pilates or Yoga, or both this Autumn will get your limbs moving in all different ways safely. These disciplines are low impact so don’t place unnecessary pressure on your joints. Make sure you practice with a qualified instructor who will be able to modify the exercises to be safe for your particular condition or pain area.
You’ll feel that you’re challenging your body by improving flexibility, strength and mobility but you know you’re doing safe exercise and you’re not at risk of making your arthritic pain worse.
Pilates and yoga are brilliant disciplines for relaxation and mindfulness which is also vital for managing your pain and discomfort. You will learn how to breathe correctly and time your movements to your breathe, this will help with pain management as well.
Once you know what you are doing you can incorporate movements and stretches from the class into your routine every morning to get you moving better and quicker at the start of each day, and again at night to aid better sleep.
Choose a class or instructor suited to your level of fitness and ability and don’t push yourself to do ‘the harder’ versions of every exercise if it will cause you joint pain, or isn’t something your body is ready for yet.
Always make sure that you consult your GP before taking up any new exercise.
Start with the foundations
I always recommend trying a new exercise face to face with a qualified instructor so you can be sure you’re using the correct technique and that you’re safe, but if you really want to try some exercises at home first there are some fantastic resources online that provide videos on arthritis exercises and Pilates for arthritis.
Try the videos on www.nhs.uk or Google exercises for arthritis. But be sure to find a qualified professional with classes local to you.
For details about my classes in Houghton le Spring and Hexham, visit my website www.perfectlypilates.co.uk
For classes in Durham and West Durham, I recommend Jill Robinson www.organicpilates.co.uk
If you live with arthritis or know someone who does, you can help Arthritis Research UK shape the research into this area by completing the National arthritis survey at www.nationalarthritisweek.org
Stay safe and ‘move well every day’!