Volume 7 | Read Time: 8 Minutes
Table of Contents:
1. Living Life Out of Alignment
2. Beating Fatigue
There are all kinds of things that we as humans do that cause a lot of stress on our joints. They are nothing more than acquired habits, but unfortunately, these small things become major issues for our joints.
When we live with our own bad habits, the effect on our joints is that it places a heavy “load” on them. (Try to imagine an automobile that has one tire that is leaning outward or, inward). Obviously, this would cause uneven wear on the side the weight is bearing on. The same is true of those poor joints that are the victims of our bad habits.
If you take the time to watch for these “peculiar” habits and take steps to correct them, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary pain and disability both now and down the road. Let us look at step one.
Medical professionals have video cameras hooked up to computerized imaging that can “visualize” what is going on inside your joints when we are placing these unnecessary burdens on them. However, you do not necessarily have to go to that expense. You can begin by checking out those habits right at home.
Set up a full-length mirror and use it to look for these unusual habits. Step back about fifteen paces and walk toward the mirror. Do you notice anything unusual in your gait? Try doing a variety of things in front of that mirror to see if you can discover any unusual activity you are engaging in while using your joints. (That becomes very easy if you are experiencing pain in particular joint areas.)
Try your best to walk upright and make certain you are doing your best to keep your legs straight. Keep your shoulders as erect and pulled back as far as you can without feeling uncomfortable. It is very easy to fall into habits like “swinging” our legs in a strange way. (Usually, when the leg or foot is involved you will see uneven wear on your shoes) By walking, and of course swinging our arms and doing so in an even and “straight” way, we are balancing the needs of our joints to handle weight load evenly.
Be especially vigilant when looking at areas where you are experiencing joint pain. In many instances, it is a case of (you) victimizing the joints simply by handling your body incorrectly.
In many cases, you will be amazed at what a slight adjustment to your own body movements can make when joints ache.
Simple aerobic exercises have been clearly demonstrated to improve osteoarthritis symptoms. We will be giving you examples of simple exercises that take up little time and we are going to continue to do so. Eventually, you will have an arsenal of simple aerobics that address every part of your body and put little burden on you.
If you have any concerns about exercising, please consult with your physician before doing so. As well, make certain that you do not dehydrate your body (drink water as needed) and breathe fully. Let us go back to the first fundamental exercise routine that all of us benefit from.
Thirty minutes of walking daily is a simple, easy-to-integrate routine to get after the load-bearing joints. (If thirty minutes is too much at first, try fifteen and work your way up). This works well to keep those particular joints (low-back, hips, knees, ankles and feet) active. One would think that all of us are engaged in activities like this on a regular basis but unfortunately too many are not.
Begin with fifteen-minute walks three times weekly. Slowly, extend out to thirty minutes for the same number of times. Eventually, you should be able to build up to a daily routine. (I should say that five times weekly is sufficient unless you want more.)
If you are living in a situation where exercise is out of the question (some of you who are city dwellers and not comfortable going out), there are many pieces of equipment on the market that can do the job right at home. (Do NOT look at those massive body-building, all-inclusive pieces of equipment.) Keep it simple and discuss any equipment with knowledgeable trainers. (A trip to the local YMCA or even a good sports equipment store helps.) We are talking about exercise equipment that simulates walking or other aerobic activity.
In even the mildest cases of osteoarthritis, fatigue can be a major issue. It is a “double-whammy” when pain gets out of control. Moreover, we are not talking about someone who is constantly in pain. It can affect any of you who are simply having a bad day. (Even one day of bad pain can become excruciating.)
Even the worst of days can be handled with ease if you know how to do it. In other words, by implementing some simple steps even the worst of days will begin to disappear. It is a question of who is in charge. Is it going to be the osteoarthritis or you?
There is nothing more therapeutic for those who suffer from arthritis than consistent sleep cycles. I emphasize the word (consistent) because anyone who alters their sleep patterns is particularly at risk of increasing their pain.
That does not mean “early to bed…early to rise” is the answer. The real solution is to go to bed at the same time every night and get up on an equally consistent schedule. It is important to emphasize that this rule applies to both weekdays and weekends. (We all know how easy it is to stay up a little later on the weekends and sleep in on Saturday or Sunday.)
This can be a little tough to get used to if you are already in a pattern of irregular sleep. For some reason, our bodies have an “internal clock” that sets itself to the pattern we have already established. For most, it may take as long as 2-3 weeks to get used to a new and different sleep pattern. That is proof positive that in fact, your body does have that “clock” inside so let it adjust along with you.
Do not drink caffeine after 4:00 p.m. That includes sodas that contain caffeine as well as coffee. It is definitely going to affect your ability to sleep. (Usually, you will find yourself waking up constantly.) As well, do not be too overly active just before retiring. Some have a tendency to do a little last minute house cleaning or maybe even a little exercise. If you do this, your body is still “racing” when you get into bed.
If you are having trouble adjusting to this new rest cycle, try reducing your activities in the last hour or so before you go to bed. Turn televisions or radios down to lower levels or do a little reading. (Your mind begins to slow down when you do this and is mentally preparing to rest.)
Unfortunately, when pain gets to be a little overwhelming, it is very easy to just retreat to the bed. Alternatively, lie down and take short naps all the time. Too much time spent in bed contradicts the need for all arthritis patients to exercise regularly. When the bed starts to look too inviting, stretch yourself that extra mile and take a brief walk. You will be amazed what it does for your overall well-being. The body’s endorphins begin to flow and pain starts to decrease.
Once you get into the swing of things, this new approach on “how you rest” is going to astound you. It can reduce your pain levels significantly so long as you are using a regular regimen of glucosamine and exercise. You will find that life is more organized and less frantic; and as well, those with depression (very common for those with osteoarthritis) will find that their outlook is better every day. We have often said that winning the battle with arthritis means changing your lifestyle. These simple steps make an enormous difference and are so easy to put into place. There is nothing to think about here. Just make up your mind and do it.
Keep on healing.
This concludes Volume 7 of The Arthritis Ninja. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to be notified as soon as the next issue of The Arthritis Ninja is live! Please share with any friends you know who have arthritis and would be interested.
Yours in Joint Health,
The Arthritis Ninja