(Photo credit: Photo taken from www.healthline.com)By Michaelle Fields (@californiaradiance)
As an arthritis sufferer, I spend a ton of time thinking about aches and pains! It is part of my day-to-day reality now. So rather than complain, I accept it and use it to be more mindful about the nurturing and support my body needs at this point in my life.
In my particular case, the onset of arthritis began about five years ago in my low back. So it affects almost every move I make (from sitting, walking, and driving to standing, exercising and everything in between). It is fickle too. Some days I can leap out of bed in the morning without a single twinge. Other days, I wake with my back as stiff as a board – or worse, my hips and knees are achy and unstable too. On these days especially, I know I will have a greater challenge if I don’t tend to these “pain signals” with a few tips n’ tricks I share with you here:
Massage — When time allows, massages are my best friend! They not only help to relieve tension and tightness in my muscles, but they also help relax and soothe my entire being. I don’t always go to a spa for a massage, however. I also have in my arsenal a foam roller and massage ball, which I use daily (and sometimes nightly) right at home!
Stretching — Similar to massage, stretching provides many pain-relieving benefits, while increasing circulation and improving flexibility too. So stretching my back and all the major muscles supporting my back (i.e., my neck, hip flexors, and hamstrings) is an important part of my daily routine as well.
Strength Training — Conversely, weight training enables me to target those problem areas, to hone in on their strengthening and development, and to address related concerns around proper posture, core balance, and stabilization too.
Cardio — Walking is always my “go-to,” when I just need to move! And, as the Arthritis Foundation confirms, walking is ideal for arthritis sufferers because it “strengthens muscles, builds denser bones, and burns calories —all without jarring fragile joints.” Cycling, swimming, light jogging, and yoga offer similar value and benefits as well. (This is why I signed up for WB4UR program today, as it only gives me another fun & focused way to build up density, stabilization, and strength in my back and in my core, which is right where I need it!!)
Rest — I cannot over-emphasize the value of a lil’ good old-fashioned R&R as well! Muscles and joints can only go so long (being actively engaged and/or exercised) before they become fatigued and need rest. Physiologically speaking, it is during rest when muscle fibers actually recover, rebuild, and restore themselves. So it is crucial to allow this part of the healing process.
Basic First Aid — While resting, hot/cold compresses come in handy too! Heat (i.e., a hot shower, a hot bath soak, or heating pad) helps to relax and soothe achy muscles, while cold (i.e., an ice pack or bag of frozen peas) helps reduce swelling and inflammation. Neither requires more than 15-20 minutes at a time, making it very easy to reap the benefits.
Unquestionably, living with arthritis is not “fun,” but the products and practices mentioned here help make all the difference in how I feel, how I approach, and how I experience the joys and challenges of each and every day. So if you’re a chronic pain sufferer too, it’s my hope that (after receiving medical clearance first) these tips n’ tricks can help you spell relief too!
About Michaelle FieldsA new member of BGR, Michaelle Fields is a school materials sales consultant; a certified physical fitness trainer and Spinning® instructor; and founder of California Radiance, a health and beauty brand taking a fresh and balanced approach to natural skin and personal care. You are invited to follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/californiaradiance) and on Instagram (@californiaradiance).