Taking care of for yourself when you’re hurting is easier said than done. I hear you. I have arthritis too and it’s pretty bad sometimes, particularly when the weather is up and down. However, when you’re hurting is the time you need tender loving care the most. And that’s when it’s time to pull out the real needle movers… the things that will help you the most with minimal effort. Here are my six most powerful ways to look and feel your best, during an arthritic flare up.
If you’re skipping ahead come back to me! You don’t want to miss this section. I made it number one for a very good reason. Hot/cold showers, also known as Contrast Hydrotherapy, might take you some getting used to but how you feel afterwards is absolutely worth the temporary discomfort of exposing yourself to cold water. I am completely hooked. Just listen to all the goodness hot/cold showers provide.
They help manage pain; elevate mood beautifully and score, even alleviate depression; move lymph fluids; and detoxify your entire body, lessening the work of your liver in the process.
Start with hot water. Then turn the water to cold, working your way up to colder water as feels tolerable. Go back and forth with hot and cold water three times each. As you advance over the coming weeks, include the top of the head and scalp. Hot/cold showers take about three minutes total and are the perfect finish to a spa day. You’ll love how vibrant and lighthearted you feel.
Keep in mind you can turn the water slowly to cold. You don’t have to expose yourself to cold water ‘all at once’.
Fasting rivals hot/cold showers for first place. The experts agree. Arthritis specialist Dr. Eugene Zamperion talks at great length about fasting in his book An Alternative Medicine Guide to Arthritis. Dr. Joel Fuhrman also writes about fasting in his excellent book Fasting and Eating for Health: A Medical Doctor’s Program for Conquering Disease. Fasting for 24 hours for me provides almost 100% relief.
Renee @the_rheumatoid_arthritis_mama also talks about managing her flare ups on her November 19, 2019, Instagram post. She says, “For me, when I flare it’s simple. I do a 24-hour liquid fast (tons of water, hot tea, and a green smoothie to drink with my supplements) and I rest. This helps my body to kick the inflammation out fast and it works really well for me.” She adds, “There are several extra’s, Epsom salt baths, hot/cold “contrast” showers, using natural pain relievers like full spectrum hemp oil and creams for pain, and wearing compression gloves. Incorporating gentle movements and mobility flows but for me liquid fasting and resting is paramount.” Wow, right? Thank you, Renee, for these essentials. I go back to them again and again. For me, fasting has been the only thing that provides 100% relief.
Sleep, stress management and down time are crucial and are number three for me in managing arthritis. Here are my own guidelines. For
more information, consider reading Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution.
I’ve always been a champion sleeper, even during arthritis pain and flare ups, even in the wake of losing my husband of 25 years. I’ve never needed or used sleep inducing
Sleeping basics are sleeping in a cool, dark room with a firm mattress. I prefer to sleep flat on my back with no pillow under my head, a very small pillow under my knees, with a sleep mask or soft sock over my eyes. I go to bed at 9:00 and turn the lights out at 10:00.
The other reasons I sleep so well, to the best of my knowledge are because I don’t take any prescription drugs which are proven to create sleep problems; I drink very little if any alcohol; exercise consistently; I eat the right foods; I eat my foods in the right order, eating light foods in the morning and afternoon and heavier foods at night; and I don’t eat late at night, ideally consuming my last meal around 5:00 pm. See Arthritis Diet below for more info.
It’s so easy to lose your impetus when you’re in pain. But here’s the thing: exercising for arthritis is crucial. You have to oxygenate those joints. Dr. Susan Blum, author of Healing Arthritis says, “when pain limits how much you move the joint, the muscles around it may begin to atrophy, and the ligaments can become lax.”
She goes on to say “For a long time OA (osteoarthritis) was viewed as a wear and tear disease caused by an overload on the joints that eventually destroyed its tissue: first the cartilage and then the bone. Now it has been redefined as a multi-factorial disease that is influenced by lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, and health conditions and diabetes. In the United States, arthritis is the one of the leading causes of disability”.
According to Dr. Eugene Zamperion, arthritis specialist and co-author of “An Alternative Medicine Guide to Arthritis: Reverse Underlying Causes of Arthritis with Clinically Proven Alternative Therapies”, “While daily exercise and physical activity are important components of any healthy lifestyle, they are an absolute necessity for people with arthritis.” He goes on to say “An ideal exercise program for arthritis should target flexibility, strength, circulation of blood and lymph fluid, and relaxation” or essentially, Yoga, rebounding, and weight resistance.
For my own fitness regime, I ride my stay bike 20 minutes a day, five days a week. I alternate weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when there are no threats of virus’; I practice Yoga on Tuesday and Thursday; and I play singles tennis with my husband on Saturday morning (we reconciled!). Begin slowly and work your way up.
Also, according to Dr. Zamperion, Yoga is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do for arthritis. Start slow, be patient with yourself. Yoga is called a practice for a reason. We will never perfect it, it’s about the journey of learning. Weights take me maybe 20-25 minutes, where Yoga takes 1 hour. It’s demanding physically, but nothing beats Yoga for getting blood and nourishment to your joints.’
Gentle Barre is a full body workout combining dance and yoga. Its main focus is on balance, alignment, posture and even, symmetrical development of the leg, hip and foot muscles. I have never personally taken a barre class, but I can attest to the power of the various movements while standing at the kitchen sink!
Whenever I’m out watering or making my salads or doing my green juice I practice the classic barre positions and I really notice an improvement in my knees and feet. Remember that developing all the muscles around these crucial joints will help take the burden off the joint itself. Visit www.innovativeptllc.com for more information.
Epsom salts are well known for their detoxifying bennies that rid the body of toxins that exacerbate inflammation and reduce swelling, stiffness and pain. Taking an Epsom salt bath right before bed and retiring early is number four on my list. Get the real deal though. I get mine from Sprouts or Whole Foods. The list of ingredients should say Magnesium Sulfates, USP Grade. Follow package directions.
I soak for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Of all the things you do to move the needle on your wellness management daily, diet is THE hands down, most important lifestyle change you need to adopt right now. Let’s have a lil’ chat about what’s on your plate.
Some people might say the arthritis diet is restrictive and well, I guess that depends on how you look at it. Remember, it’s called an eating ‘plan’ for a reason. Here’s the thing: focus on the things you can have, not the things you can’t! You’ll soon see that eating this way is vibrant, delicious, beautiful, kind and exciting! Vegetarian cuisine is one of the most healthy, delicious and kind cuisines in the world.
For arthritis, you want to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Focus on dark leafy greens (romaine, kale, spinach, arugula), fresh fruit, lots of raw vegetables and raw nuts and seeds. You will also include a daily intake of healthy fats (cold pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, avocados), about 2 tablespoons and super grains (quinoa, millet). Avoid all meat (beef, poultry, pork, etc.), no dairy, restrict sugar (except honey and real maple syrup) and alcohol. Moderate your intake of fish and eggs (only buy wild caught salmon and organic free-range eggs) and of the nightshade’s tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers because they are inflammatory.
Eating the arthritis way retrains your taste buds. I absolutely love my delicious homemade green juices, big raw salads at lunch and vegetarian soups, bean tacos, wild salmon and vegetarian chili’s for dinner. Get it right 5 ½ to 6 days out of 7 and you will really move the needle on your pain management.
Well, that’s it for today! If you want stunning skin, an elevated mood and plenty of sustained energy throughout the day, take a look at the special gift I have for you. It’s my free download “Five Pillars to Optimal Wellness“.
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For some goodness on yoga and wellness at home, check out Joy of Nesting’s, “Your Exercise Sweet Spot: how to create time and space for yoga, workouts and meditation”!