Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than one million people in the United States of America and millions of other people around the world.
As commonly encountered as this disease is, as little there is actually known about it.
In truth, even researchers admit that the only thing they know about it is the fact that it is an auto-immune disease that affects the flexible joints, but which can affect the skin, the kidneys and other organs as well.
The Mystery of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The actual cause that leads to the development of the RA (as it is sometimes shortened) are not yet known, although researches are made in the field.
Knowing the exact cause of this auto-immune disease would help millions of people out there get better treatment for their medical condition.
However, until that moment when they will discover the cause comes, those who suffer from this disease can only find the methods of coping that suit them best.
The most common symptoms shown by those patients with RA are pain in the joints, swollen joints and even fever and weight loss sometimes.
Thus, the treatment recommended by the medical professionals will be focused on treating and ameliorating these symptoms. In this order of things, the doctor will prescribe a series of drugs that can be used against pain. Also, some disease-modifying drugs may be prescribed, alongside with other types of drugs.
Exercising and Strength Training May Help You Cope With RA
In addition to medicines, the doctor will also recommend a few other things, including exercising. Of course, the exercises will have to be at a mild level of intensity and they should never affect the area that is painful due to rheumatoid arthritis.
There are many types of exercise you can do to help yourself cope with the pain of RA, but what may surprise you is the fact that strength training can be beneficial.
Lifting weights is as healthy as any other sport out there, including for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Apparently, it has been proven that limiting weights can curb your pain and it can help you increase the power of your muscles and to move better.
The key is finding the trainer that has the necessary experience in working with people with arthritis. Furthermore, you should know that your hands and your fingers should not be affected by RA, since you have to have a good grip of the weights you are lifting.
How to Start Weight Lifting if You are an RA Patient
The first step to picking up weight lifting as an exercise for rheumatoid arthritis is to talk to your doctor or rheumatologist. He/she will definitely be able to tell you if you can do this and he/she may even be able to recommend you with a place and a trainer to get you through your daily strength exercise routine.
Furthermore, he/she will be able to advise you if you need a specially fitted brace to help you lift the weights and if you need foam dumbbells or not (an occupational therapist may be able to design any special tool you may need for your work out).
Another thing you should know is that when you start your actual workouts, you should never use weights that are too heavy. The best way to achieve your goals with this kind of exercise is to use light weights and to do more repetitions than you would have done with the heavier ones.
Also, you should know that machines are better for you than dumbbells are, although you can use them as well (or at least as long as your condition allows you).
It is important that you do your workouts regularly, but you should never exceed three times/week. Furthermore, do keep in mind the fact that you need to rest between workouts and there may be trainers and specialists who will advise you to never workout more often than once in a four days’ time.
Moreover, do make sure that your workouts do not exceed 30 minutes, since otherwise you may strain your body and that will actually harm you more than it will benefit you.
If you cannot or if you simply do not want to go to the gym, you should also know that strength training can be done at home as well. You can do simple strength exercises, such as squats and push-ups, but do remember that you should ask for professional advice before you start your routines even if you do not go to an actual gym.
Moreover, do keep in mind that it is one thing to feel sore (and it is normal, especially if you are not in a good physical condition), but if the pain level starts to rise, you should go visit a doctor as soon as possible.