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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Exercises for when you can't exercise


Sunny Day

I have two ideas for easy exercise.  One is the book that I talk about below.  The other is an exercise I got from a physio that changed my life for the better.  Yes, it changed in a small way but if you take enough small positive steps you end up in a better place.

Here's the book:

I read this book 20 years ago called The Arthritis Exercise Book by Semyon Krewer. He is a nuclear physicist who developed severe RA before the treatments were as effective. You can get it for $1 or so at www.abebooks.com second hand.

When he wrote the book people were often confined to bed if their RA was bad.  Thank goodness that seldom applies to people now. He outlines a lot of exercises that take very small  effort but they do make your muscles stronger.  He used them to keep some muscle tone so that when he improved enough to get out of bed he would be able to move around better.  So you can do these exercises in bed or lying on the floor.

He outlines the exercises in a very methodical way and over the course of a week covers the almost every muscle.  In collaboration with his physiotherapist they devised a combination of stretching, repetition and isometric strategies.  He's quite charmingly chatty and doing his routines helped me when I was at my worst

And here's the one exercise:


Oh no! Is that a dagger that I see before me?

Yes it is and for this exercise you imagine that this dagger is pointed at your bellybutton and is endangering the wholeness of your naval.  You can be lying in bed for this.  With the threat to your middle you pull the muscles in your abdomen in to get away from the dagger and hold for 10 to 30 seconds when first starting.  Do 5 to 10 repetitions twice a day. If you get really strong hold it for up to a minute.

As a further enhancement, pull the muscles in and then try  to move them up towards your head


It's hard to believe this does anything but I have a story.  After 22 years of RA with almost no exercise at all I started to do this.  After a few months I happened to see a different rheumatologist when I went for a check up.  She felt in my abdominal area, as usual and she actually said that I had good abdominal muscles!

I was shocked and very pleased.  It seemed like a miracle that I got results so fast from doing so little so I started to try harder with other easy exercises.  I won't say I am in good shape but at least it's a lot better.

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