Your question is an excellent one, and will resonate with many of our readers. You are right about the many benefits of exercise, including for arthritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, arthritis can be slowed or mitigated with exercise – the challenge is finding the right type.
If your doc has cleared you to return to Zumba, you may want to ease in and modify the lateral moves (sideways, such as grapevine). Are you able/ willing to add aqua classes to your workout plan? Zumba aqua dance classes exist. You do not need to be a good swimmer to join an aqua class. Shallow water classes are in water that’s generally hip deep. If your gym has only deep water classes, you can use swim lessons as your workout, then wear the buoyancy belts once you’re a more confident swimmer.
For other cardio options, try anything that is low impact (high intensity is fine, but NOT high impact) and more forward and back than side to side. One caveat – depending on where the arthritis is in your hips, spending a lot of time on a machine such as a stair-stepper could be contraindicated. Besides, you seem to be a person who enjoys group fitness classes, so try a variety of those. A varied exercise plan is more effective than a repetitive one for most people.
You might also consider some stretch and strengthen classes. Stretch to open up the hips and strengthen to give your muscles more of the workload, which eases the load on your skeletal structure (bones). Since you mention a ligament injury to your ankle, I would think strengthening that area might be a priority, especially if compensations are affecting your hips. Have you worked with a physical therapist to strengthen that ankle, while considering the impact on your hips (such as an altered gait)? You can probably even find a therapist who is ALSO a personal trainer by searching at ideafit.com or acefitness.org.
In addition to low-impact cardio and strength training, you may want range of motion exercises too. This article from Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center goes into more detail about everything mentioned above, including the need for tailored, specific range of motion activities.
Rest is an integral part of any exercise regimen, arthritis or no! Check with your doctor about creating the right combo of rest time, anti-inflammatory meds, ice, and possibly even meditation.
We’ve had good luck getting specific advice for our exercise-loving bodies by choosing primary care doctors who also value exercise. We’ve had some doctors who wanted to prescribe medicine for our arthritic knees. Their advice was to stop exercising. We switched to doctors who used medication as a last resort and aligned with our preference to keep moving. We are not advocating dumping your doc or ignoring his advice; we are advocating getting into a partnership with your doctor so that he can work WITH you to create a plan that includes exercise.
This quote is from Mayo: “Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff. Talk to your doctor about how exercise can fit into your current treatment plan. What types of exercises are best for you depends on your type of arthritis and which joints are involved. Your doctor or a physical therapist can work with you to find the best exercise plan to give you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.”
As women who are similar to you – arthritic joints, exercise-loving, youthful minds, mid-50s – we know it’s possible to keep moving. We just have to be pickier than we were 30 years ago. There IS a solution, and your positive attitude will be a big part of it! Please keep us posted. Happy dancing.
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Actually the back saver test is a modification of the sit and reach test. Both are flexibility assessments, though the former tests one leg at a time; the latter has both legs extended simultaneously. For the back saver, you sit on the floor with one leg extended in front of you and the other bent with that foot planted throughout. Then you reach both hands toward your feet and mark how far you go. How low low low can you go? How low can you go?
So, what muscles get stretched in this test designed to test flexibility? For $100 per vowel and $200 per consonant, let’s go with H-a-m-s-t-r-i-n-g-s. We have a winnah! Hamstring flexibility helps with gait, posture and hip placement; such flexibility helps protect your back. So that’s the “saver” part of the story.
Take a look at this short video we did for eHow demonstrating how to get the most out of the sit and reach test. Don’t we look deluxe when professional videographers shoot us with two cameras?
How flexible are your hammies? Are you doing the test correctly or imitating Quasimodo and hunching over? As our video shows, you want to lift long through the spine and press your tailbone back, not under. Lengthen your arms toward your toes without “turtling” (having your neck disappear into your shoulders). If you do this incorrectly and slump or roll in an effort to get closer to your toes–as most people do– then you’re not really involving the hamstrings any more. You’re simply stretching your upper back, which is already pretty stretched out on most people. So do stay long and lifted through your torso. If you have good form, then raise your hands to wave as if you’ve been back saved!
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Next, sit and reach for the links to subscribe to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your workouts. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on Google+: Alexandra and Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
The foot bone connected to the ankle bone, The ankle bone connected to the shin bone, The shin bone connected to the knee bone, The knee bone connected to the thigh bone, The thigh bone connected to the hip bone, the hip bone connected to the back bone, The back bone connected to the shoulder bone, The shoulder bone connected to the neck bone, The neck bone connected to the head bone, Them bones got up and walked around. – Lyrics from the song Dry Bones by the Delta Rhythm Boys
If you want your bones and muscles to get up and walk around, you have to keep them happy. Our singing does not necessarily make our bones happy! But stretching, well, that’s a solution of a different horse!
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Basically, any time you lift the knee, such as in a kickbox cardio class, a squat, a step class, a walk up a hill, an incline on cardio equipment — you are contracting hip flexors. Whenever you extend your leg to the front you are contracting the quads. Time to stretch those babies, but not by committing the most common form faults (which can really stress the knee, by the way). Watch our video to get incredible, amazing, unsurpassed, exemplary form. Find out whether you are guilty of any of the most common wrong ways.
Readers: We’re all about Healthy Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers so let us know what exercise do’s, don’ts, maybes, and shoulds are on your question list.
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Photo credit: archive.org Public Domain
Hmm, this is Alexandra, and I’m not sure what happens at :22 in the video, but I would like to thank Zensah for the orange compression sleeves. They rule!
Don’t worry, nothing you can’t handle. The kinetic chain is made up of the:
All of these parts make up a whole that is interdependent. For example, muscle tightness restricts the range of motion that a joint may be moved (i.e., tight hamstrings can affect hip and lower back mobility). If you’re confused, please refer to this handy chart:
Odd as it sounds, for a muscle to gain strength, the tissue has to receive enough stress to cause micro-tears. Once that’s occurred, you can help your muscles recover by using the foam roller to break up adhesions in the muscle tissue and/or fascia. When these “trigger points” are decreased, blood flow increases, which is good!
Alexandra: I like to use the foam rollers for myofascial release with my group fitness students every so often, mostly because I always get a laugh out of their moans and groans when they discover their tight iliotibial (IT) bands.
Kymberly: I admit up front that I love foam rollers! Roll, roll, roll in zee … Hey, that really hurts so good. (Insert silent scream here as I roll out my tight hammies and upper back. Did you get the movie reference I just made two sentences ago?)
Alexandra: I was starting to think it was about time to introduce the foam roller to this quarter’s “crop” of university students when I found out about an app called Roll Release Techniques, which has 100 different videos for using the foam roller for self-massage.
My feeling at discovering an app that I could take onto the teaching stage with me was something like this:
This app packs in 100 videos, more than 25 different muscle groups, and demos that show up to 4 different levels for each group. The creator of the foam roller app, Dr. Ryan Emmons, is the one demonstrating the moves, and it’s simple to use and follow. Tap the muscle you want, then tap the level you want (regression, main, progression or advanced). Simple to follow along; simple to use.
As a fitness instructor who doesn’t use foam rollers enough to know all the possibilities by heart, I found the Roll Release Techniques App super handy. For a fitness enthusiast at home who wants to get some quick myofascial release, it’s also super because there’s no need to know the names or function of any muscles; you can just tap the picture of the muscle you want to work.
Usually I’m a bit
snobby particular about the fitness information I’ll purchase and use, but this app totally rocked and rolled; well, it rolled! As you can see by the facial expressions on my students’ faces in these pictures, foam rollers are an effective tool!
Readers and Rollers: What fitness apps do you use?
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own. Alexandra used her own money to purchase this app because it was totally worth $2.99 to get all the video demos.
Photo credit: Man jumping kreg.steppe
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Don’t take our word for it. Watch our short video. Then you can take our image and word for what good form requires.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viVL1_neJeY[/youtube]
The best stretch of all is the one your fingers make when you subscribe to our YouTube channel and this blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit, especially if you like shots of Santa Barbara and nature. The icons in the right sidebar are a quick way to link to us as well. We link and follow right back.
Readers: What stretches do you see commonly done ouch, wrench, twist and shout, the WRONG way?
Photo credit: Us. Yeah, we took a screen shot from our video. Bet you could tell. Real credit goes to Rancho la Puerta fitness resort in Tecate, Mexico for allowing us to shoot this video while visiting as guest instructors.
Want to see more cute compression leggings and socks? Visit zensah.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Filmed at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort. Ain’t that place just super purty and inspiring?
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Readers: Who has suffered from lower back pain? How did you work through it?
The Ranch staff know how much Kymberly loves Dr. Ratey’s research and book about the link between exercise and the brain (more from Kymberly in an upcoming post about her dream-come-true experience of meeting Dr. Ratey, who is very droll and excellent company), so they invited us to come down while he was a presenting guest. Try to feel our pain, as we had to choose every hour between lectures, massages, pool classes, group fitness classes, hikes, meditation, and eating organic, vegetarian food. Yeah, exactly. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (trivia: did you know that Rancho la Puerta: Golden Door has a long history with Pantene?)
Actually, our pictures can show you some of the beauty that is the Ranch.
Thank you LongSailSports, for the cool googles and GELIE bag! Perfect timing for this trip!
I dedicate the picture above to John Poole, as he has a tremendous love for squirrels and their antics.
Did you know there are many activities you can do when you are (still) recovering from foot surgery? I even took a water class, then did laps, right after 3 miles on the bike and a mile on the treadmill. I was
awesomely awesome somewhat nauseous afterward!
I was so gracious; I let them use my glutes as the model for these male torso sculptures.
Every day at the Ranch, I was asked about my compression leggings and socks by Zensah. You don’t have to have foot surgery to be a fashionista, by the way!
Yes, I woke up at 5:45 to take the morning hike to the organic garden and kitchen for breakfast. But look at the picture below and you’ll see that it was totally worth it!
Before Kymberly left town to visit her daughter at college, she made this short video that has some gorgeous views of the Ranch. Take a look.
By the way, if you are considering a trip to the Ranch, don’t listen to the dire warnings about Mexico. Rancho la Puerta is only 43 miles east of San Diego, and about 2 miles over the border at Tecate. You are escorted the entire way in the Ranch shuttle and you never have to leave the spa (although
we lots of people like to go into town for pinatas, chocolate, wine, lard-based donuts)!
Have you ever gone to a spa? What did you like best about it?
We want to give a shout-out here to our friends at Mr. Steam. They had nothing to do with our trip to Rancho la Puerta, but they do offer us the same feeling of spa luxury with their products. We’re proud to be ambassadors for them!
I brought along my 15 year old son. By definition, he does not drive. I hate driving. But I do like traveling. And saving money on airfare. My solution: make lots of stops to get out of the car and take photos with my new iPhone. Yup, oddly enough, having Instagram (an app that lets you take photos and send them out via social media immediately) motivated me to get out of the car and move.
Any time we spotted a viewpoint or something interesting along the road (yeah, Hwys. 15 and 70 are both major interstates with shoulders just wide enough for me to pull over and not get “whoomped” by the draft of 18-wheelers passing by), I’d
careen carefully pull over to the side of the freeway, get out and take some pics. I even took my poor, long-suffering kid on a few short hikes, trying to get the “best” shot. FYI, I am not actually a photographer, I was just determined to get my kid moving.
There has been so much research lately about the detrimental effects of sitting too long that I wanted to be sure and move, both while on the road and at the conference.
I also wanted to be sure and eat healthfully, as good eating habits sometimes get tossed out the window (along with fast-food trash) during road trips.
See for yourself whether I met my movement and food goals.
If you read our post “Lose 2 Pounds in 2 Days,” or our other conference-related post “3 Excuses You Can Use When Mountain Hiking,” then you already know that we went to the conference to speak about blogging and learn about the latest research in the health & fitness field. The attendees were a combination of fitness industry pros and enthusiasts; what we all had in common was our love of fitness and social media. And food. Um, yeah! Food!
This is the section where I tell you about the amazing brands that sponsored the conference (and my fabulous fashion choices). I say “amazing” because they treated us extremely well. Not just well; extremely well.
Anschutz Health & Wellness Center
Cherry Marketing Institute
Love Grown Granola
Western Dairy Association
Quebec Maple Syrup
Better Whey of Life
Black Jacket: Qignition
Presentation pink outfit: Aventura Clothing
Orange backpack/ purse: Overland Equipment
Totally comfy wicking socks for the hikes: Goodhew
Hat that protected me from the sun and sweat: Headsweats
Fabulously awesome, fit body: My parents (no link haha, although you can see our mom in this posture video)
Disclaimer: Thank you to Refuel with Chocolate Milk for providing us with a scholarship for the conference registration, and to FitFluential for making it possible for us to be panel speakers and moderators. All opinions, silly faces and poorly lit pictures are my own!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Dear Sibby: We are of the mindset and age that 30 year olds should look lovely, and mostly do. We know we did! Since you asked so nicely, we shot a posture video with three starter suggestions on achieving anti-slouching when seated.
The real key though, is awareness, which you seem to have. We deduced this first by your compliment about out posture series videos 1-5. Obvious awareness! Second, you know when you are schlumping, you know when you’re up straight, you know when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for posture’s sake. (Make you think back to any holiday songs?). Third, you actually noticed that sitting in good posture takes energy. This level of awareness is your first, and best step to meeting your posture goals.
A few tips in addition to the video insights:
Saaaay, are you schlumping while reading this? Lift your heart puhleeeze!
Readers: What do you do to remind yourself to sit lifted? What word have you made up to beat “schlumping”? (which we pretty much like and plan to adopt).
Nominate Alexandra Williams
for a social media award in the Shorty Awards