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Exercising with the S.T.O.P. Method - Example Exercises

Hi! So I wanted to expound a little bit on the article: due to a few requests to explain and maybe get into specific exercises. Before we start, please check out and refresh yourself with the article so that you can safely proceed with some of the exercises, if you should choose to try them (after checking with your physician, of course!).

Many people say that exercise and moving helps with their RA, and while I was skeptical for years, after I started doing it I am a convert. I think it does help. Here are a few of the exercises I do.

Since I have bad shoulders but I still wanted to be able to have strength to hold things up, I devised a way to make the muscle a little stronger without too much risk of injury to myself. I take a pair of socks - something that's easy to grab and can also be tied around the wrists (lightly) if need be if your hands can't grasp. Inside the sock you can put anything - batteries, golf balls, a tube of toothpaste - that's the great versatility of this exercise. You can make it as light or as heavy as you want. Once you get the weight right, just hold your arms in front of your and lift up straight as high as you can without pain. Do it slow - 3 seconds up, pause for a second, three seconds down. ALWAYS start off slow - even two or three times will eventually make you a bit stronger. If you are like me, though, after years of RA, shoulders are a weak spot.

Another exercise I created is one to help get up off the floor when I (inevitably) fall down. I am always worried no one will be around to help and there won't be anything near to grab onto. That means leg strength (and knee flexibility, but that's another issue). In order to help build up the strength needed to do this, I lay in back on my back, and then simply turn over and try to put my knees underneath me. That's it. I know it may not seem like much, but think about what you do to get up off the floor. People like us would turn over, and the try to pull our knees up so that we can, at least, get upright on our knees and once you are there you can, if nothing else, scoot over to something to grab on to. Try this in bed for safety and see how close you can get to getting up onto your knees. Eventually you'll be able to if you keep at it.

Finally, the last one I will share with you today is a finger exercise I do. I am a writer and I am terrified that my fingers and hands are going to be stricken with bad RA and I will lose my (albeit tiny) career. So, I do as much finger exercising as I can. What this involves is taking the same socks from exercise 1, and balling them up inside themselves. Then, simply squeeze! You can do all the fingers at once, or you can do each finger individually, like I do. It sounds like a nothing exercise but I PROMISE you within 6-7 squeeze you will start feeling the burn in your hand and forearms. This one builds up muscle fast and also keeps the finger joints moving.

So there you have it, three of the exercises I came up with to help with the daily grind of RA. As always, use the S.T.O.P. method in the article mentioned above and never, NEVER, utter the phrase "NO PAIN, NO GAIN." That way leads to madness. Talk soon!

  1. Yup, gave away my “No Pain, No Gain” tee shirt years ago! Of course, sometimes I still overdo it, out of habit I suppose…Thanks, Daniel, for another informative mixed with humor article! 🥳

    1. Hi . My wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here), is right there with you on sometimes still overdoing it on the exercise. I think there is something to having the RA for years that can lead one to want to fight very hard to maintain ability (all too understandable). I often remind Kelly to not overdo it (once in a while she even listens 😀 ). Best, Richard ( Team)

    2. It can be hard not to overdo it on those days we feel good. But either way, we gotta stay moving! -Effie, team member

  2. Hi , so I am planning on trying/ doing your exercises. Not the knee ones and my knees aren't the best for that. but I was wondering if you have one for the arms, upper arms to build up some muscle and get rid of fat, I realize the shoulder one but does it help the upper arm muscle too?

    Thank you for all your ideas and wisdom.

    Blessings and Prayers

    1. Sure! So glad you decided to take some of my hard-won advice! 😊 Probably the best way to tighten up the arms and get rid of some of that "fat" and lagging skin is to build up the biceps and triceps, both upper arms. The thing is you can't target areas specifically to lose fat, but you can make the muscles in the area bigger/more tight that can help. For biceps I do the normal curling exercise but instead of using weights I use the bands - it's sometimes called theraband or resistance bands - you can check amazon for some types. Basically you hook it under your foot while standing up and then, facing your arm out forward from your chest, curl upwards while holding the other end of the band that is pinned under your foot. Once you get it curled to about eye-level, hold it for 2-3 seconds and then slowly lower it. I've found that it's less about how heavy the load is and more about how good your form is for the exercise. Usually the rule is 2 seconds to pull or push up, 3 seconds to hold, and then 3 seconds to let back down. If you are trying to get toned, you'll want to use less weight/resistance, and more times doing the motion. Still, though, always start very small and work upwards to what your body can handle.

      As for triceps, the backside of your arm, that's a little more difficult to get at. The best way I've come up with is to hook the band over the top of an open door, coat hook, or bureau drawer and then grab the band with both hands and pull down. When you pull down, though, you want to keep your elbows locked at your sides and only pull down by extending your arms straight. If done right, you'll feel it on the back of your upper arms.

      If you can something something long and stretchy you can definitely substitute it for the bands, but I was unable to find anything long enough so I had to give in and amazon some bands. I got knock off brand cause the TheraBand isn't cheap, and they seem to work just fine. Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help or if you need further explanation! Keep on keepin' on, DPM

  3. Thank you, for your detailed arm exercises. I do plan on doing these and the previous one you did an article about. Hopeful 3x per week. I have lost at least 40 lbs. In a year and 4 months, so I do need to work on some areas. My legs seem to be good, it's the arms and belly that need the work. I think I will order a band from Amazon as I don't have anything like that I would be able to use.
    I really appreciate your information, and your knowledge. I, myself, have had RA since I was 16 years old so that 54, closer to 55 years now. But, I did not have serious issues that lasted till 2010and started with Plaquenil at that time then things got real bad in 2016. Over thes last years have had many different meds. Had reations to many of them, but "keep on keepin' on" you have been through the windmill and back so sre extremely knowledgeable about this RA. I sincerely appreciate you, and your articles.
    Blessings and Prayers

    1. Let us know how it goes and remember - take it slow! Enjoy! Thanks!

  4. My exercise is tennis - not a good combination with RA but it makes my mind right and being outside playing is my happy place. I have had to reduce the frequency as I almost always pay a price after such a high impact sport. Are there other tennis players with RA? What have you found?

    1. thank you for reaching out. I am not a tennis player. However, I am hoping others in our community who play tennis will reach out.
      I have danced since an early age. As an adult I have continued to tap dance. I still dance because it is "my happy place". So I related to what you wrote. I have had to adapt how I dance at times, with my RA.
      I have attached an article link below, that I wrote about dance's impact on my life. Hope you find the article helpful.
      Just Keep Swimming...Lynn Marie, " Team Member"

    2. Hi . I don't know if you are aware that professional tennis players Caroline Wozniacki and Danielle Collins both have RA. I know a lot of people have switched to pickleball because of the reduction in impact (I also know a lot of tennis players are not wild about the incursion of pickleball onto the tennis courts). Is it something you have considered? Best, Richard ( Team)

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