Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle
How To Do It When You've Got Joint Pain and Stiffness
I have decided to start my journey to better health and fitness. I came to a screeching halt once I began experiencing joint stiffness and inflammation at the age of 19. It started out acute and I would only notice it while playing softball; the vibration of the bat would pain me to the point I could not follow through with a swing. I thought I may just have been overworking myself. By the time I was 21 I had quit softball altogether, but I would wake up in the morning and could hardly move my body.
After several different doctors, I have yet to find an answer; test results all say negative, MRI results say possible rheumatoid, and my most recent rheumatologist has come to believe I may have psoriatic arthritis. Anti-inflammatory drugs make a slight impact. I've now started to test out turmeric supplements (we'll see how it goes). But the biggest journey I have started has been that of fitness.
Like many who suffer from joint pain, inflammation, and inability to apply pressure to the affected joints, I had avoided any physical activity that would cause me pain. But as of these past couple months I have started doing fitness classes and have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of things I really can do! And a little discouraged by the ones that are hard (but I have just begun).
First, I adapted my diet in response to what makes me hurt the most. Fried foods, red meat, white breads, starches, high sodium, etc. I am still learning what are triggers and what aren't, and like any human being, I cheat and slip up here and there, and definitely pay for it! Some of the things I do eat are lots of veggies, white meat such as chicken breast, olive oil instead of vegetable or canola, whole wheat pastas and breads, swapping white jasmine rice for brown jasmine rice (I was surprised this exists!) and increasing my water intake while decreasing my sugary drink intake. Of course each person's triggers will vary from the others.
When I did begin the fitness life, I started small. I asked what modifications I could do, I wore two wrist braces (still do) and started with lighter weights to see what my body could handle. Luckily for me, anything involving my lower body wasn't a problem as my pain lies mainly in my hands and wrists. If you're like me, your wrists can't handle a push-up to save your life, so I started with modified wall push ups. Also, don't forget your stretches! Wrist stretches, clenching fists, opening and shutting your hands, and getting that blood flowing! These stretches have made a serious impact in my mobility.
I am hoping to keep you updated on my story as I continue on this journey and share what my struggles and successes are when it comes to working out. I have found that the more I stay active the less pain I have. I am hoping that others in my situation can grow from this road block of pain and learn to live and decrease the suffering that is this horrid condition.