Swimming and arthritis

Ms. Meniscus,

I’ve heard that swimming is the best exercise for arthritis. Do you agree? Where can I learn how to swim?

E. Jones

Dear E. Jones,

I’m always happy to hear when my readers are interested in exercise. My disclaimer before I delve into this column: make sure you consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program! Every person is different, and what might be the best exercise for one person may not be true for others. Some people with arthritis may choose to do some light yoga and stretching, while others may decide to go for a long walk around their neighborhood.

What’s great about swimming is that it’s low impact. The water actually provides your body with support which allows your joints to move with a larger range of motion. Believe it or not, gravity plays a huge part in joint pain! If you combine gravity with a physical activity with inertia, it’s no wonder most arthritics cringe at the thought of football!

To learn how to swim, make a visit to your local community center. There are YMCA’s around the country! Check out www.ymca.net to find the closest one to you.

If your community center has a pool, there’s a good chance they also offer swimming lessons. You can try water aerobics (we call it vertical swimming) if it turns out you don’t like or can’t get a hold of traditional swimming.

Here’s a fun fact, our CreakyJoints’ co-founder, Louis Tharp is also a swim coach and blogger on www.totalimmersion.net (http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/blogger/Louis%20Tharp). This website also is a good source for swimming techniques.

Happy swimming!

– M

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