Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Arthritis RX

WHO CAN DO THIS: This is designed for people suffering from arthritis, so it is necessarily gentle.

THE BREAKDOWN: Vijay Vad, M.D., who based this program on yoga and Pilates, conducted clinical trials on it and says in the intro that participants had reduced pain in knees and hips and were able to cut down on pain meds. So that's cool.

You can start by watching the tutorial presented by Dr. Vad, but this is the most disappointing segment. While he explains what various movements are good for and generally how to do them, he does not address safety — for example, how to protect your neck during crunches, or the risk in putting sideways pressure on the knee joint in tree pose.

The exercises themselves are a three-part program. The 18-minute beginner segment focuses on flexibility. Done mostly on the floor and very slowly, it includes some twists, lots of arm raises for shoulder mobility and core strength, inner thigh stretches, and very easy standing poses including a tree pose keeping the raised foot lightly on the floor for balance.

The intermediate segment, 20 minutes, is for strength. It also starts on the floor and includes leg raises, gentle abdomen crunches, and back strengtheners interspersed with stretches. Standing poses also include some gentle side leg lifts, and another tree pose, this time with the foot lifted.

The 16-minutes advanced segment aims for endurance. It starts with the Pilates move the hundred, with rests between each 10 arm pumps. Crunches, bicycles, leg circles, one-legged bridge poses, a very gentle chair pose and more, done slowly and deliberately, provide challenge without taxing joints. And yes, I did all three segments and yes, I got a moderate workout on this last one.

A bonus segment includes tutorials for movements to help ease arthritis pain in specific body parts: neck, thumb, toe, shoulder, low back, ankle.

All the exercises are valid, they're gentle, they address all the necessary body parts, and I have no reason to doubt their efficacy. 

THE SWEAT FACTOR: Unless you've been seriously sedentary for a long time, you're unlikely to sweat during the beginner and intermediate segments. You might however get a glow in the advanced segment

BUT IS IT FUN? If you've been severely limited by arthritis pain, the fun should be in regaining mobility, movement, and hopefully, less need for pain pills.

WHEN IT'S OVER: Maybe a little looser, a little stronger? Every day in ever way...

GEAR AND APPAREL: A mat or carpeted floor.

FINAL WORD: Movement is good for arthritis, we know that. But if your arthritis has been limiting or made you fearful, this DVD is a great way to ease slowly into getting your body moving again.

(Oh, and it seems a little unkind for Acadia, the company that distributes this DVD, to load the intro up with clips from all kinds of workouts that people with arthritis can't do. Just skip those.)

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