Arthritis stinks. So does any other painful condition that limits movement. Injuries, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis? Not fair. Most people need motivation to start exercising. Some of us, on the other hand, wish we could do more.
The arthritis pain in my neck began to be painful even when I swam with my snorkel. Last fall, the doc told me to temporary hang up my swimsuit until the pain was gone. Not what I wanted to hear, but I understood. I respect the healing process that all parts of the body need during recovery.
On the plus side, walking was still OK. At least I could do something! I simply had to focus on keeping my neck loose when walking, and to slow down, stop, or take a day or two off when my neck flared up. I was a regular walker, so I just kept that up, hitting the mall during the slippery, snowy days. That was great, but I missed the ability to strengthen my upper body.
Finally, my doc gave me permission to hit the pool. The deal was to swim gentle laps. For only 5 - 10 minutes. And to keep that up, not push any longer or harder, for 3 weeks. If I didn't feel pain afterward, I was cleared to repeat the next day. Geesh. Was it even worth it for such a short swim?
Of course it was. I was pumped up on Friday as I grabbed my gym bag and headed to the pool. Using my snorkel, I swam 6 minutes. Gently. It felt great to be in the water again, and the neck was good. A water aeorbics class was starting right afterward, so I joined in, thinking it should be alright as long as I relaxed my neck and made adjustments on the moves if I needed to. Wrong.
My neck was angry the next day. My pool time was too much. It'll have to be either the water exercise class or the swim. I know, I know. I should have known better, but it got carried away since I was feeling so much better.
Possible morals of the story:
- Always listen to your doctor.
- Fight the excitement: don't do too much too soon.
- Baby steps all the way!