Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Joints that are Pain Free, Born Free, Live Free, Stay Free
To move and exercise pain-free–That’s one of my huge desires for 2013. Who else has that hope? Yet certain baby boomer joints just don’t want to cooperate, darn it anyway!
Lately I have been more and more frustrated with the fact that my knee and foot issues are preventing me from working out as often, intensely, and comfortably as I want. The optimist in me is convinced I will wake up one day and discover that my left knee has forgotten it ever had two surgeries. As a result, my right foot would then decide it no longer has to compensate for that knee by bearing the impact brunt in a painful manner.
Fortunately, I am still able to teach fitness, walk my dog, and engage in lots of activities (though lunges and snowboarding are now out barring some medical or aging miracle). But I definitely worry about limited days or types of action. Ahhh, to enjoy high impact aerobics again! And I feel the pain. Nevertheless, I persevere in trying solutions, solutions I want to share with you in case you are experiencing similar joint pain.
A combination of factors helps me continue going for the gusto in my beloved step classes, on powerwalks, and in all forms of dance and cardio classes. If you are also suffering from joint pain and want to stay or become more active, try the following. Let me know if any of my strategies work for you. For sure speak up if you have found other ways to move pain-free with each added year of an active life.
One set of shoes for walking; Sport specific shoes for fitness classes
First and foremost, get shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and designed for each exercise mode. Don’t follow trends; follow your medical or fitness professional’s advice and your own body. I invest in several pair of workout shoes, and wear them only for the designated activity. I fully embrace my boom chicka boomer status at this point and care more about pain-free movement than fashion, style, and low cost. Vive la TheraFits when it comes to my fave walking shoes!
Confession time: I pooh poohed orthotics for years, advocating fixing movement patterns instead. A youthful biomechanics snob was I. Experience (code word for “joint pain”) has taught me that even good form, attention to footfall, and body awareness can’t totally fix my foot problems. Orthotics are taking the pressure off my arthritic big toe, which makes me hopeful I will avoid the toe surgery my sister had for this same problem. But now I have new pains in the pad of my foot. The gait shift from the orthotics may be the culprit. Or the savior. I am still experimenting with the orthotics. Any tips?
Supplements for Joint Health
I’m currently in the first month of a two month trial of Pure Matters Joint Health supps. At first it seemed as though the supplements were not making much of a difference. I believed they would work miracles; I wanted them to be the magic pills; yet my knee still hurt. Maybe I expected too much. Then I neglected to bring the tablets with me on a 2 day trip and boy, did my knee hurt – a lot!. You bet I raced back to the tablets before teaching advanced step yesterday. Yes, my knee felt better. This stark comparison makes me hopeful that joint supplements do provide some relief, albeit subtle at first. More on the Pure Matters Joint Health effects in another month or so.
Strength Training for Supporting and Surrounding Muscles
No surprise that I advocate and abide by having strong muscles to bear as much load and impact from exercise as possible. The stronger my core and lower body, the more I can count on muscles and less on joints and ligaments to power me through activity.
I hate being cold and wet. Don’t you? So I get into pools only when both the water and air temp are toasty. Or when my joints scream after mountain hikes like a slipped fan belt. ( I LOVE hiking and powerwalking except when every step hurts). When at Rancho la Puerta I hiked every morning, then hopped myself into several aqua classes as I really, really, really wanted to exercise without holding back. Ignoring the pain was not really working any longer as an option. (Forgot to mention that the “ignore” solution has been one of my go to strategies for years.) While I prefer land classes, I gotta give full props to aqua classes as the place to plunge in for joint protection while working out hard and heartily!
Cranial Sacral Therapy
Bring on the mind/body healing modalities! Suffice to say that you’ll be reading more in a future post about the Cranial Sacral Therapy sessions I took while at Rancho la Puerta. Spoiler alert – my knee pain has gone down a bit since then. Will more sessions help more? Can this modality actually realign my knee, foot, and gait and bring them back to their pre-soccer injury condition? Hello knee from my twenties! Good-bye aging joints! Stay posted as I seek out a few more CS sessions.
Where does that leave us? Combining all of the above has allowed me to keep on keepin’ on. No solution alone seems enough. Is it unrealistic to believe I will again be pain free? I really want to do MORE with the rest of my life, not less.
Makes me think of the song Alexandra and I sang in a talent contest at age 10 — Andy Williams’s hit, Born Free. Verse one went great as we wooed the judges in our matching wool plaid skirts and knee socks. We were soooo cute, if our mom did say so herself. Born Free, as free as the wind blows.
Then came the painful part. One of us went with “Stay Free” as verse two; the other launched with “Live Free.” Twins fighting, then laughing hysterically onstage in the middle of our song did not make for a big talent win. Or place. Or show. Ahhh, good times!
Is it too much to ask that my joints Live Free and Stay Free, as free as the roaring tide. Life is worth living, especially worth living if it’s Pain Free! Who’s with me on this singalong?
Dear Readers: Have joint issues changed your exercise life? If so, what strategies have you put into action in order to stay active?
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