Exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis
My left elbow was one of the first major joints effected with RA. It was severely swollen, stiff and had poor range of motion. None of the specialist doctors that I spoke with mentioned the importance of movement through the joint to maintain it’s integrity. In fact, because my elbow was so painful they advised to me to ‘keep it rested’ and to ‘not put too much pressure or weight on the joint so as to avoid pain’. Well, this part of my RA story ended with me having elbow surgery in the form of a complete synovectomy and 10 hours a day on a rehabilitation machine for 6 straight weeks. That left elbow is now bone on bone and clicks when I move it. Nice!
So after elbow surgery I realized that the advice I had been getting on all fronts was very, very poor. So I went on a determined mission and experimented with various exercises for my other effected joints and found that even though the exercises hurt a little, they did far more good in the long run for my joint recovery. I began to realize that there was tremendous truth in the saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it” – this is especially true for RA. When we stop using our joints, the larger muscles near the joints also weaken causing some muscle atrophy. Worse still is when the delicate ligaments and tendons around the joints also become weak and brittle because they then also get caught up in the inflammation process.
THIS WAS A HUGE DISCOVERY FOR ME! It was remarkable to me just how much of my joint pain was coming from inflamed, brittle ligaments and tendons and not just the synovitis itself. So I than began to discover that the most effective way to heal a joint that is affected by RA is to get it moving. But we also know that with RA that the doctors are right in some cases – that its, sometimes loading an affected joint in the wrong manner ends up doing more damage than good. That’s why I’ve put this blog post together, because I found that along with my program, the following exercises to be the absolute best ways to safely reverse RA in the elbows, knees, ankles and feet and to get the most bang for your exercise buck.
So this is what I did:
I have found the absolute best exercises for RA include Bikram Yoga, stationary bike, gym resistance training and restorative yoga postures. Using each of these exercise approaches at various times I was able to completely restore my left knee which was swollen to the point of being unable to walk. With a single cortisone injection, and lots and lots of exercise in these formats, I can now run on that same knee that was destined for a complete joint replacement.
Each of these exercises are very different. I would encourage you first and foremost to find a Bikram Yoga studio near you. Gosh, if I didn’t have a Bikram studio near me during my worst days I would now have an artificial joint in my left knee. Bikram alkalizes, strenghtens, aids digestion, increases appetite, eliminates waste and a whole lot more – read my testimonial on the Bikram page via the link in the previous paragraph.
In an absense of Bikram Yoga I would go to a local gym and sit on a resistance bike for about 30min a day. This served to get healing bloodflow through the knee and help dislodge circulating immune complexes which are part of the cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis. You must move a joint many, many times a day to clean out the waste and drive nutritious, healing blood to the effected areas. Cycle bike not only achieves this for the knees, but it also helps alkalize the body as a whole, which aids in combating the Acidosis associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis (again, refer to the ’cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis’ link above which discusses the ‘BLAME’ in great detail).
It takes a lot of different approaches to heal Rheumatoid Arthritis in the knees. It’s an approach from about 10 different angles that combine together to get on a recovery path to walking normally again. If you have RA in the knees then the best way I can help you is through the Advanced Healing package which contains a 52 minute video on everything I did on how to heal my knee from RA. For example, here’s a tip to get you started – stop wearing heals on your shoes. The heals put forward pressure on the knee joint and cause unnecessary load. The best thing to do is to go barefoot around the house as often as possible, and when you leave the house use shoes that have no raised heal. This is harder for ladies, I know, but you’ll thank me when you try this because it will dramatically lower pain in your knees. My personal favourite shoes in the world are now my Vibram FiveFingers. These things look bizarre, but they are fabulous when you have knee problems as they allow for a natural movement of your lower leg muscles the way nature designed us (i.e. barefoot). The additional benefit of these shoes (or going barefoot) is that it allows a movement through the metatarsals of your feet. Hands up if you have Rheumatoid arthritis in your feet? Just about everybody! So if you want to give this a shot you might find some rapid pain relief in a few days as your dormant little metatarsal joints start to get some movement through them, as you foot moves over various surfaces, and thus some blood flow. With the blood flow comes nutrients and elimination of waste. When these things occur you’ll get pain relief. Neat huh?
For the rheumatoid arthritis in my elbows, resistance training at the gym was by far the best approach. I would involve a combination of movements that evolved over much trial and error over 18 months until I found the way to heal and not hurt. If you have RA in your elbows, then I would suggest trying this approach. As a general guide, pushing exercises (such as light bench press movements with dumbbells and high repetition or assisted dips) worked far better than many tricep movements (especially tri pull-ups behind the head, which load the elbow a lot and once set me back about 3 months when I injured my right elbow ligament since it was so brittle from RA). For my elbows I also developed a funny looking arm movements exercise that looks a lot like a boxer preparing for a fight. Not full punches, just little arm movements at fast pace (normally with my body leaning forward) and I did rotations of over 1000/day. As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t want to have another elbow surgery. So some simple arm movements here and there throughout the day was an obvious easier alternative!
What was interesting to observe about the RA in my fingers, ankles, jaw, wrists and chest was that these went away with the Paddison Program alone. So there were no additional specific exercises that I had to do in combination with this gut-healing process to get rid of the pain in these areas. However, I did note that the pains in my ankles could be aggravated by rolling onto them side to side. So, when going up and down stairs (or when doing one-legged standing postures in a yoga session) I would take great care not to put any pressure into the swollen ankle joints. I used to try and sleep with my fingers outstretched (not clenched) since this also allowed for an ease of bloodflow through the fingers and minimized morning stiffness.
Please, please hear my message here – I cannot overestimate the importance of exercise enough. If you don’t use it, you lose it. You must get these joints moving. What follows is dramatic pain relief and improved range of motion. If you’d like to know more about each of the above exercises I have a full 30min video explaining the exercises above in detail the Advanced Package for RA, along with the 52 min video on reversing RA in the knees.
As a disclaimer, I must add that you should only make changes to your exercise, diet, medications and lifestyle after consultation with a professional.
If you need help with different joints or other parts of the body then leave a comment below under this article and I’ll let you know what I did to get rid of it.
Love and healing,