Over the last few months I’ve had some major breakthroughs with my osteoarthritis. I’m more limber, my gait is better and the day-to-day discomfit has eased significantly. I know there is no such thing as remission but I’m definitely on the path to improved mobility.
It’s also important to point out that these tips are preventative measures that I wish I had been aware of years ago.
Osteoarthritis is the most frequently experienced joint disease among Americans and yet it is largely preventable. Had I been aware of
Here are 5 tips that have made living with osteoarthritis easier for me
1. Exercise/ Gym
I’ve gone to the gym for years and have worked with my trainer, David Luis, for several years. Over the last six months, however, we’ve focused specifically on building up my hip flexor muscles to compensate for the joint weakness I have in that area.
I train with David one day a week but I’ve incorporated many of these new exercises into my daily regimen. It’s making a huge difference.
My daily workout consists of 30 minutes on a stationary bike (which is better for arthritis than the treadmill), plus an additional 30 minutes working on flexibility and muscle strength.
A side benefit of my gym is its community. I get a lot out of my fellow gym-goers, especially the older Chinese men and women who are all in their late ’70s and ’80s. They work out every day, are in great shape, and are living “the life.” They absolutely inspire me.
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2. Walk and stay active
Staying active and mobile is essential. I try to get in 10,000 steps every day. It’s not always possible but I live in a walk-up so taking the stairs is part of my daily routine both at home and at Ludlow House, where I go to write every day.
3. cut back on drinking
Wine and cocktails, wonderful as they are, cause the worst kind of inflammation of the joints which is a no-no for those of us with osteoarthritis.
The link between drinking and arthritis first got on my radar this year when I decided to give up alcohol for “Dry January.” I was incredulous at how much better my joints felt.
I haven’t given up drinking but I am more mindful about it. I’m sure I’ve cut my alcohol consumption in half.
4. maintain a healthy weight
Every pound of excess weight exerts 4-6 pounds of extra pressure on your joints. My orthopedic doctor emphasized this when I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and then just to make sure I “got it,” he came running out of his office as I was leaving to declare loudly for all to hear:
5. Medicate with Advil Liqui-Gels
When all else fails, I take two Advils and they work like a charm. As a matter of fact, if I know I am going to have a very active day involving 5 or more miles of walking, I’ll pre-emptively take two Advils before I set out.
While there is currently no cure for osteoarthritis, there are certainly ways to manage the symptoms.
The two most important are 1. losing weight and 2. being physically active.
And finally, big shout out to my trainer at the Chinatown YMCA. I cannot say enough good things about David Luis. He is thoughtful, kind and makes working out fun. He’s helped me to overcome the worst of my symptoms. I am extremely grateful.