Do you remember when you were a child and you heard an adult say, “Quit being a pain in the neck.” Or, “Quit being a pain in the butt?”
Now be honest. We’ve heard it before and I still hear it said to kids. I’ve said it a few times myself at the end of the day when my kids were at each other.
As adults, I think we say that to kids because that pain in the neck or butt is very real to us. In fact, 53 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability. Arthritis can affect joints all over the body, even in the back.
According to the CDC, as of 2008, cost associated with arthritis treatment was around $128 billion per year. Exercise has been proven to help improve pain and function in people with arthritis. Unfortunately, almost 44% of adults with arthritis report no leisure-time activity or exercise because of the pain that arthritis creates.
Good exercise choices can help to minimize the pain. Here’s a few things to consider when exercising with arthritis pain, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE):
Focus on exercises that improve your functional movement and pain management. Tai chi, Pilates, and yoga exercises help improve pain levels and restore daily movement patterns.
Maintain a normal body weight. According to the research, arthritis risk increases 9-13% for every two pounds of weight gain.
Choose water aerobics and deep water running exercises. Water aerobics and deep water exercise is even better than swimming laps when it comes to minimizing joint discomfort. Swimming laps can be stressful on the spine and shoulders. I like to swim laps but I’ve learned to vary the stroke movements every lap from front crawl/freestyle to breaststroke to elementary backstroke. I’ve found that too many front crawl laps doing rotary breathing can create a pain in my neck. My favorite thing to do for my back and joint health is deep water exercise. I’ve been doing deep water exercises weekly for almost 20 years now. A recent study showed that a routine of water exercise five days per week decreased pain levels and disability and improved body composition and quality of life. Water exercise is amazing.
Go for a walk. Walking is a great form of low impact aerobic exercise for people with arthritis.
Take a bike ride. It’s also a low impact way to engage your large muscle groups (legs) and create a great aerobic workout. Use toe clips on your pedals to work your hamstrings. This will make your bike ride a better workout.
The kids are back in school but you still have a pain in your butt. Maybe it’s not the kids after all. Maybe you need to start exercising. Give it a try.
Here’s to you managing your pain with exercise.
Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the September 15, 2016 edition of the Seaford Star.