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What Exercise Are You Able to Do?

I had a hip surgery last year that didn't heal well and had subsequent nerve damage. I spent a year in physical therapy, but that was cancelled due to aggravating more than helping my symptoms. I am prepping for another surgery, but in a few weeks when I'm back on my feet, I'm joining a gym. I was curious what everyone has had success with in terms of exercise. My rheumatologist recommended Tai Chi and water exercise, and recommended avoiding yoga. I used to love yoga, so it saddens me to hear that. He said that over-extending and pushing flexibility limits can be bad, but I actually read here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/exercise/ that yoga is recommended. Any thoughts?

Here's what I'm planning on starting with:
Water based strengthening to start (I learned this in PT and LOVED it)
maybe a few water aerobics classes (if they're available at my local gym)
light strength training (after I get re-accustomed to it in water)
Tai Chi (if it's available at my local gym)

I'd love to hear what everyone else is doing in terms of exercise. Maybe we can share tips or ideas!

Here are a few I've found helpful:
*Learn and practice proper posture until it is reflex. I know this sounds basic, but this was stressed to me in a full-time physical therapy program and it really has made a difference.
*Learn biofeedback. It's amazing what control can do to improve suffering and maybe even lessen pain.

  1. Hi Angie ~

    The type of exercise that is best for each person with RA obviously varies depending on which joints are affected. Generally, gentle yoga can be ok for people with RA - but as your rheumatologist mentions over-extending can be a problem for some. Personally I find yoga difficult because of balance issues! Water-based exercises are almost always a good idea because it is a low impact environment. I love to swim or even do water aerobics. I've never tried Tai Chi myself but I have also heard good things about it!

    It may also be useful to at least talk with a physical therapist after your surgery and see what kind of exercises they would recommend for your particular situation.

    Best of luck to you!

    ~Mariah~ (Site Moderator)

    1. I joined a gym myself. I am mostly doing weight training that I started in physical therapy and I also take a body flow class. Body flow combines yoga, tai chi, and pilattes. I cant do most of it, but I keep trying and respect my limits. I let the instructor know in advance that I have RA and what my limitations and problem areas are. So when she leads the class she will often say things like if you have trouble doing this move try this adjustment for less strain. They are also really good about encouraging you. And saying things like if you need to rest go ahead and start back up when able. It is ok to stop or take a break. She will say it to the entire class so i dont feel so self conscious or defective. Many of the other partivipants have ra or oa so most of the beginners need frequent breaks. I wish i had more water exercises available to me here. Good luck!

      1. I had read that floating excersises were very therapeutic for rheumatoid sufferers with limited mobility and other chronic ailments. I have done this starting with a floating board, due to lung and heart problems. I have slowly moved up to back floating with out a floating device. I find it relaxing, and have seen small improvements in mobility and strength in muscles, and worsening of joint limitations have not continued since doing this. this it works well for me. thought I would put my personal experience out there for those who would like to do research on this subect.

        1. Debbie1963,

          Thanks so much for sharing your experience with the community. It is wonderful that you have found something that works for your RA. I thought this article from one of our contributors Kelly would resonate with you. "Water therapy and Ra" https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/water-therapy-ra/

          Thanks so much for being part of our community!
          Best Wishes,
          Lauren (Community Manager RheumatoidArthritis.net)

      2. Angie, I wish you the best of luck in exercise and recuperation from surgery!
        I have yet to try Aqua Zumba, but I intend to try it soon! Because of wrists, ankles, and toes...yoga is difficult for me. I have old Winsor Pilates dvds that I use occassionally, but I use a pillow because of having the "delicate" neck that she describes. She does have "modications" in her DVD workouts.

        The best and only consistent exercise that I manage weekly is walks outside, about 0.25 mile. I fit this in 3-4x per week.

        Exercise can be challenging when you are already lazy...and then too tired or in pain to "add more exercise" to your routine.

        Good luck!

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