PILATES FOR ARTHRITIS

Winter weather is bad enough without having achy, painful joints to go along with it. If you suffer from arthritis, you understand all too well what effect the weather can have on your body and mind.

We understand it can be hard to keep moving when you’re in chronic pain, but it is essential to maintaining your quality of life. The beauty of Pilates is its focus on slow, controlled, gentle movements, which makes it perfect for anyone suffering with aching, stiff joints caused by inflammation.

Let’s start with the hardest part, and that’s moving in spite of pain. Our work with hundreds of clients has shown us, the mental game is at least as important as the reality of the physical discomfort. We wish we could wave a magic wand and dispel your fears about moving while in pain, but of course, we can’t. What we can tell you is: in almost 15 years of working with clients, no one ever felt worse after moving with us for even a little while. If you can convince yourself to simply get started, we feel certain you’ll feel better.

Once you’ve committed to daily movement, you will begin to see a big improvement in your overall inflammation, but it’s very important to focus your efforts on mindful, non-jarring movements. We also recommend dressing in layers to keep the body warm, and studies for RA have shown promising outcomes when collagen was added to the daily diet of 500 participants.

We’ve included some videos below focusing on gentle, slow movements that will help you connect your body and breath, and begin to loosen your joints and keep you mindfully moving and feeling better all year round.

STANDING ROLL DOWN

Begin by standing tall with legs magnetized together and spine lengthened. Shoulders are down, and the pelvis should not be tucked. Take a deep breath and bring arms overhead and then in front of the body as you gently tuck your chin and begin to slowly roll down one vertebrae at a time. Bend your knees if needed to bring the fingertips or palms to the floor. Continue to inhale and exhale deeply as you move, keeping the chin down as you slowly roll back up to standing. Repeat 3-4 times.

MODIFIED SPINAL EXTENSION

Begin lying down on your stomach with shoulders down, neck lengthened, and legs stretched long behind you. Bend your arms, bringing the elbows into the side of the body. As you inhale and exhale, gently and slowly extend the spine by keeping the neck lengthened and lifting the chest off the floor, using your forearms for support. Repeat 4 times.


LOWER BACK ROTATION

Begin by lying on your back with knees bent and arms out to a T pressing into the floor. Inhale and let your knees gently fall to the right, keeping feet on the ground. Bring knees back to center as you exhale, and allow them to gently fall to the left, again, keeping feet on the ground. Arms and shoulders should stay in place, allowing the low back to gently twist. Repeat 3-4 times on each side.

Jennifer Mapalad