Ways to self-manage ARTHRITIS
Self-management is about using your own resources to help manage your condition. There is much you can do for yourself. You may well already use a combination of the following techniques:
Understanding your feelings
When you live with a long-term medical condition, you are more likely to be confronted
regularly by a range of emotions, such as frustration, fear, resentment, anger, pain and vulnerability. Emotions are powerful and can be complicated. Learning to identify and manage these emotions is
very important and can be liberating.
Distinguishing between feelings associated with arthritis and feelings associated with the highs and lows of daily living is important. It’s natural enough – particularly soon after a diagnosis – to blame everything on arthritis, but in allowing arthritis to direct all your emotions you are allowing arthritis to control you. Self-management is about regaining control of arthritis as just one part of who you are.
Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet is important when you have arthritis. As well as providing you with all the nutrients you need, this will help you maintain a healthy weight.
In general, a healthy diet is one that is:
Exercise can be the last thing you want to do when in pain from your arthritis. However, exercising is one of the best ways of keeping pain at bay. This Exercise and Arthritis booklet contains more information. The other benefits of exercise include:
Can exercise make my arthritis worse?
The right kind of exercise will not make your arthritis any worse. In fact, exercising helps you
lose weight, which means less strain on your joints. It is important not to overstrain yourself while you are exercising, and to gently stretch before and after exercise. You can still exercise
during a flare up although your workouts should be gentle.
Your FIT4LIFEOVER50 Trainer can help you to pick an exercise program to suit you. A physiotherapist will advise you on the best exercises after assessing your joints and muscles.
It is usual to feel some pain as your muscles get used to being exercised. Seek advice from your doctor if you feel pain in the joint itself or if the pain continues for more than two hours after finishing exercising as this might be a sign you have overdone it.
Types of exercise
A good exercise program will incorporate three types of exercise: range of movement, strengthening and aerobic exercises.
People with arthritis seem to benefit from the following types of aerobic exercise:
How else can I keep active?
Keeping active does not mean you have to spend hours at the gym. There are many simple ways of incorporating exercise into your daily lifestyle.
Taking care of joints
When you have arthritis it is important to look after yourself to reduce further damage to your joints. This might mean learning new ways of carrying out everyday tasks to reduce the stress on your joints. To protect your joints you should:
Practical changes at home and at work
To protect your joints you might want to think about how you carry out everyday tasks such as washing, dressing and going to work. There are some simple changes you can make to minimise the risk of damaging your joints.
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