Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - 41

1. Drop 5 pounds.

Extra body weight adds stress
on the joints, particularly the
knees. Every pound of body weight places
4 pounds of exertion on the knees. So
if you're 10 pounds overweight, your
knees are actually feeling the stress of 40.
That means losing a modest amount of
weight-say, 5 pounds-can make a
difference to your joints.
"The higher your body mass index,
the more stress you're placing on your
joints," says Ethel Frese, a physical
therapist and spokeswoman for the
American Physical Therapy Association.
"Certainly, if you have a BMI of 30 or
higher, losing even a small percentage
of weight will significantly reduce the
stress on your joints."
And weight loss has benefits beyond
your joints. Fat cells release chemicals
that promote inflammation, so losing
body fat helps to reduce pain and
inflammation all over.

PHOTO AND ICONS BY GETTY IMAGES

2. Lift some
weight.

Now that you know the benefits of dropping weight, we're going to
recommend you add some-in the form
of strength training.
"A good strength-building program is
essential for people with arthritis," Frese
says. "Strengthening the muscles around
the joint offers support so there's less
stress on the actual joint. The muscles
take some of the pressure off."
The Arthritis Foundation recommends
strength training for 20 to 30 minutes
two to three times per week. Stick with
that schedule, and you should feel results
in one to three months.

3. Ease up
on sugar.

Sugar not only contributes
to excess fat, but the substance itself

AT YOUR ASSISTANCE
Need help opening jars or buttoning your coat but don't like feeling
dependent on others? Consider assistive devices. The Arthritis Foundation
endorses numerous products that
make life easier for people with arthritis, including zipper pulls, electric can
openers, playing card shufflers and car
gas-cap openers.
Consider working with a physical or
occupational therapist to find out what
tools might help you and how to use
them correctly.
"Talk to a therapist who has expertise
in whatever joint you need assistance
with," says American Physical Therapy
Association spokeswoman Ethel Frese.

also causes inflammation, which
exacerbates joint pain. The Arthritis
Foundation suggests cutting refined
sugar completely, but if you can't do
that, try some healthier alternatives:
no-calorie sweetener stevia, synthetic
sugar sucralose (Splenda), agave nectar
or antioxidant-rich honey.

4. Get your
posture checked.

The source of aches and
pains isn't always obvious. Pain in a
joint may actually stem from a muscle
imbalance elsewhere in the body. For
instance, lots of back pain can actually
be attributed to weak abdominals.
Work with a certified physical therapist
and ask for a movement analysis.
"We get muscle imbalances when we
adopt abnormal movement patterns
that place repetitive stress on a joint,"
Frese says. Physical therapists can analyze patterns and suggest adjustments
to make sitting at your desk or going
down the stairs less painful.

"They're really good at instructing
individuals on adaptive equipment.
It could be as simple as wrapping a
pad around a pen or fork so your grip
isn't as tight."
If assistive devices become cumbersome or ineffective, it may be time to
consider joint replacement surgery.
Talk to your doctor about the benefits
and risks.

CALL

Get Arthritis
Answers
Have questions related to
your arthritis, like treatment
options, support groups or
financial assistance? Call the
Arthritis Foundation Helpline
at 844-571-4357.

5. Stretch
it out.

Stretching is important
for improving and maintaining range
of motion in your joints. But static
stretching (holding a stretch for a
while) can be boring. Instead, try a
dynamic activity that incorporates
multiple facets of exercise.
"Activities like yoga, tai chi and Pilates
are particularly good for stretching but
also improve strength and balance,"
Frese says.
Another option is swimming.
"Aquatic therapy helps you strengthen
muscles without any joint compression,"
Frese says. Find an activity you enjoy
and really start living. ■

SPRING 2018

41



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2018 - University of Virginia - 2
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