If you you are planning to exercise to improve your bone density and strength, avoiding the movements that may harm your spine is important. You want to solve a problem, not create a new one. Pool exercises are good for keeping you limber and extending your range of motion and endurance, but for strong bones You need to supplement swimming with activity that will increase your strength.
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We need to work on making our muscles and core stronger. If Rheumatoid Disease has affected your hands and feet, and walking or lifting is more difficult it's good to know that working on your core strength is still possible, as long as the fatigue is not a barrier.
When I started to exercise I felt like my muscles consisted of limp spaghetti the day after. Thank goodness for timely biologics that let me do more. Starting slow and building up strength gradually also helped.
Muscles Like Spaghetti
Pilates sounded like a good match for what I wanted to achieve and I found a story in Chatelaine magazine about Lori Weisbrod, who teaches Arthro-Pilates in Toronto http://www.arthro-pilates.com/ Since she has autoimmune arthritis herself she knows about the pain and issues arising from damaged joints and fatigue. I've been working on improving strength with her for 4 years through good times and less good times with my body resulting in more strength and muscle.
Lori Weisbrod ArthroPilates
I have also read a lot on the TheraPilates website. Sherri Betz is a well known speaker and teacher in the area of Pilates and osteoporosis and she has a great collection of articles on her website http://www.therapilates.com/PDF/modifyingpilates.pdf in particular her article "Modifying Pilates for Clients With Osteoporosis" If you are planning to do Pilates you should read it. If you are already doing Pilates it would be a good read for your instructor. If you're in California you could takes classes with her. Below is an example of a back strengthening exercise.
Here is the rationale behind avoiding the flexion (forward bending) and doing the extension movements. It's one of many papers by Dr Mersheed Sinaki, who studies the effect of muscle strength and exercise on bone mineral density and back pain.
She mentions a correlation between muscle mass and bone mass - so that's why you need to get stronger with inflammatory arthritis.
I am not sure if we could become as strong as these two ladies below but they are great examples. I am a lot younger than they are and they have me beat by miles.
Richard Lautens Toronto Star
Ida Herbert 96 - Guinness World Record World’s oldest yoga teacher.
There are more actions you can take for your bones you can do for your bones so this is the topic for the next post also.
Here's a link to Post #1 about RA and bones.