I'm pleased to welcome guest blogger Suzanna Adams, Physical Therapist from the OSU (Ohio State University) Medical Center. Suzanna works in the Out-Patient Rehabilitation Services, and I recently asked for her two cents on physical therapy/exercise and lupus. Here's what she has to say - all great stuff!
Exercise and Lupus
Everybody wants to be fit/healthy/lose weight/look better/feel better/have less stress/be happier. People with fancy degrees have performed double-blind studies showing that exercise can achieve all those things and more. If you have lupus or another inflammatory disease, exercise has been shown to decrease painful joints, decrease susceptibility to fatigue, decrease inflammation, minimize function loss during flare-ups, as well as improve mood. Interested?
1. If it hurts, don't do it. Seriously. It is rule #1 for a reason. If what you are doing is causing pain, then that activity is likely causing injury to your body. That will allow you to take 1 step
forward, to go 4 steps backward. Exercise can be hard or uncomfortable, but it should NOT be painful.
2. Do something you enjoy. Some psychotic people love to run marathons, most of us don't. Your chance of getting the benefits of exercise greatly increase if you actually do the exercise, which
greatly increases if the exercise is something that you enjoy. There are millions of options, you don't have to run with the psychos.
3. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have any heart or lung involvement.
1. Stretching exercises: Stretches can be uncomfortable, but they should never be painful. Here are some of my favorites that I recommend for most people 3 times per week. All stretches should be held for 30 seconds, done 2 times on each side:
a. Hamstring stretch: lay on your back, bring one leg up, hold behind your knee and try to straighten your knee. You should feel tightness behind your knee. You can also use a strap or towel around your foot to hold this stretch.
b. Single knee to chest: lay on your back, starting with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor/mat/bed, bring one knee to your chest and give it a hug.
c. Gastroc/Soleus stretch: stand facing a wall, place one foot back, keeping toes pointed toward the wall and back heel on the ground, lean toward wall.
d. Doorway stretch: standing in a doorway, raise both hands above head onto door jams, lean forward until stretch is felt across chest. You can also take yoga or other classes through the Arthritis Foundation.
2. Cardiovascular exercise: Everyone (that includes you) needs exercise at their target heart rate for 20-40 minutes, 3 times per week. Your target heart rate is between 60-80% of your theoretical maximum heart rate (roughly 220 minus your age). Try walking, swimming, bicycling, low-impact cardio machines at the gym (e.g. elliptical trainers), cross country skiing, aerobic dancing, roller blading, ice skating, whatever it takes to maintain that heart rate. Heart rate monitors are great for keeping you on target.
Strengthening exercise: You don't need fancy equipment. You can strengthen you legs by doing lunges, wall slides, squats, step-ups, heel raises or leg raises on a mat. You can strength your core by doing sit-ups, plank, or bird-dog exercises. You can strengthen your upper body by doing push-ups at a wall, bicep curls, or tricep presses.
Special Lupus concerns:
Corticosteroids: Another reason to hate them: Steroids can weaken tendons and ligaments. If you are on high-dose steroids or have used low-dose for a long time, be more cautious with strength training. BUT, steroids also can increase risk for osteoporosis, so you still need to
do some weight bearing and resistance exercises.
Fatigue: It will take a little practice to see how much exercise your body can tolerate. A good rule of thumb is: You should feel as good 2 hours after you stop exercising as you felt before you started exercising.
Flare-ups: Limit your cardiovascular and strength training, but continue range of motion exercises. Don't take more than 2 days off in a row.
Thanks again, Suzanna. From one college roomie to another, I appreciate you sharing your expertise with us!