I've had a flare, can I still exercise?

I've had a flare, can I still exercise?

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This has to be one of the most common questions I get asked in the clinic.

For clients with different types of arthritis, flare ups are bound to occur at times. Often there may be a clear trigger, but we also know that sometimes there isn’t.

Typically, we believe that the better a condition is managed, the less frequent and disruptive the flare ups. However, we know they still occur and how tricky it can be to get the balance of activity right. I thought it may be useful to share some of my tops tips for trying to manage a flare up and what I typically recommend to my clients in terms of movement.

- Gentle movement is a GOOD thing.

Find out more about gentle movement

Although it’s tempting to feel the best thing to do is curl up and just rest, we know this can make re-starting exercise again that little bit harder, and our muscles can also lose their strength very quickly. Hydrotherapy, gentle movement that may involve stretching or even a scaled back version of your normal exercise regime may still be manageable. It is important to listen to your body though and to avoid changing too many things in a short space of time.

- Pacing your activity is a must!

Managing your typical day to day activities is also essential during a flare. If you need to clean the house or tend to the garden, try breaking these chores up into small sections. Have regular breaks and try not to wait for an increase in pain to remind you that you need a breather. During a flare, it is normal for some of your day to day routines to feel harder than usual, so learning to pace your activity is an undervalued strategy that can be of huge assistance.

- Communication with your treating doctor/team

If a flare doesn’t settle, it may be a good idea to get in contact with your GP or rheumatologist. Changes may be needed to your medical management to help settle your system down.

- If possible, keep on top of the zzzz’s and H2O

It may seem simple, but too often we forget that getting a good night sleep and keeping ourselves hydrated can have a huge impact on how we feel. I try and keep things simple for my clients, and have found that a particular focus on these two healthy behaviors can also be of great benefit during a flare.

Flares are not fun. Where possible, gentle movement that is within your limits can assist in maintaining your strength and minimizing the effect the flare has on your long term function. How do you manage your flares up? Have you found a good strategy that works for you?


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