Thursday, September 19, 2013
My mother (and yours I suspect as well) always impressed upon my brother and me the need to ''stand up tall" and "sit up straight" throughout our childhoods. We were told in no uncertain terms that poor posture would lead to humped over shoulders, bad backs, sloppy appearance, etc.
Of course she was so right! I was often one of the "slumpers" and I do wonder how much of that continues to effect me, especially in terms of my RA. Back and neck pain are surely intimate friends of mine and have been since RA struck but I do wonder if I had been more diligent about my posture if that would have alleviated or even prevented any of nasty discomfort I now have. I guess I will never know for sure but one thing is for certain, even now if I can stay tuned in to my back and neck positions I do feel better.
I am hoping that getting back to Tai Chi will help with this. I have tried to do Yoga but find that holding the positions is too much strain on my joints. I was really enjoying doing Tai Chi at home but had to put that on hold till my foot surgeries and the rehabilitation was complete. Now it is and I think I am ready to go!
Another favorite that helps with back and neck issues is the gravity ball workout that I have. I do the 10 minute one and it is perfect! The ball is firm but has give and is just the right size to allow for your hand to wrap around it without having to use too tight of a grip, a dilemma when my hands are flaring. It also has a core strengthening element which I really like.
Simply bending over (with soft knees) and touching the floor and also wrapping my hands to the inside of my calf's is an easy stretch to do throughout the day to help with back strength and to relieve pain.
Neck stretches and strengthening exercises are another wonderful way to maintain proper posture and relieve and prevent discomfort. I am sure you have all heard from various health care professionals that pain from the neck can be "referred" to many other parts of the body and often getting the neck back in shape and straightened out provides relief in your back, shoulders, head, etc. I have gone to chiropractors for help in this area and it has worked sometimes though not always.
Remembering how to position myself at my desk at work is probably the single item I need the most work on! I have a tendency to sit forward and on the edge of my sit which is terrible for my back and neck! I need to really work on getting this "straightened out" as I am sure it will make a significant difference.
The back/neck region is so complicated and when you throw in RA and the inflammation associated with it the picture becomes even more cloudy, making it a pain that is a challenge to treat.
the red color going down the spine is this photo pretty well illustrates how uncomfortable it can be when RA back and neck pain are flaring. It "travels" up and down and into hips and shoulders.
I am a firm believer in massage to alleviate discomfort from back/neck pain and RA in general. I have been getting at least monthly massages for over 15 years and it is one of the best "tools" I use to combat RA symptoms.
Of course my go to answer for most of my RA symptoms (other than medications) is swimming. Without a doubt when I am regularly swimming my entire body feels better including my neck, back, etc. I cannot recommend it enough as the perfect joint neutral way to relieve and prevent pain, osteoporosis, neck and back strain, build strength, increase flexibility and equally important provide a mental health break from all the daily chaos and responsibility we face.
So get started today and "stick your neck out" by adopting some of these suggestions and adding them to your RA toolbox...you will be glad you did!