No one wants to take arthritis with them to the beach, but for those of us living with various forms of arthritis and rheumatic conditions, we really don’t have a choice!
But, we do have a choice to not let arthritis ruin our sunny disposition, and, there are steps that we can take to make a beach day more tolerable while living with these kinds of conditions.
- Take a walk on the beach! Sand-walking and barefoot walking can actually be good for you if you have arthritis. While Arthritis Today cautions that you may need to exercise special care and pay attention to the terrain due to the uneven nature of sand, there have also been many positive things put out there about sand walking, too. “A good exercise with a massaging effect is a barefoot walking on the sand on the beach,” says The Arthritis Exercise Book, “especially when the sand is warm. Walking on the sand exercises every single muscle of the foot, as the foot adjusts to the uneven surface.” In fact, “studies of nonshoe – wearing populations in Africa and Asia conclude that people who do not wear shoes have healthier feet, fewer deformities, and have greater mobility than people in shoe-wearing societies.” Author and activist Sandy Guerriere has been featured in Arthritis Today in an article with a headline claiming, “Beach walking helps nurture the mind and body of one woman with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.” In it, Sandy says, “Being near the ocean is so tranquil and so relaxing that it helps my mind unwind,” says Sandy. “It’s a real mind-body workout. I meditate and reflect during my walks and I find a peace within myself and with nature that I just can’t find elsewhere.” She walks on the beach for 30 minutes two to three times per week year-round. “I love the sounds, the smells. But one of the reasons I walk the beach is because it burns 20 to 50 percent more calories than walking on the pavement. The sand also cushions and cradles my feet.”
- Go with friends or family! If you are planning a day at the beach, don’t go alone. You’ll likely need help carrying your cooler and beach bag, and you may need help setting up chairs or an umbrella.
- Meditate – Meditation is a great way to relax, de-stress, and even alleviate pain! The beach is a wonderful place to meditate due to its relaxing ambiance.
- Choose an ergonomic beach chair that is comfortable, and one that makes it easy for you to sit and stand.
- Wear sunscreen! Many arthritis medications and rheumatic conditions make patients sensitive to the sun. Soaking up those rays is important for Vitamin D, but protecting your skin with sunblock and shade is crucial.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Hydration is important for anyone, but especially for those with chronic illness, especially if you are taking certain medications or have Sjogren’s Syndrome or Lupus.
- Pack an ice pack in the cooler, and bring a First Aid kit….just in case!
- Change positions often – it’ll help with your stiffening joints AND will prevent an uneven tan! 😉
- Take a swim – swimming is a great exercise for many people with arthritis.
- Know your limits and listen to your body.
- Don’t forget to have fun!!!
Arthritis doesn’t have to hold you captive this summer! We’ve also posted about having a picnic with arthritis and photography and arthritis. Enjoy this time of year – arthritis or not!
And, please, feel free to share your comments, below!
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Arthritis is Unacceptable.
Great blog Ashley and very timely. As I get older I’ve noticed the couple holding hands walking along the beach seem to be enjoying it as much as the kids running and digging in the sand. They both focus on what they can do and not what they can’t. Appreciate every step and enjoy the good days. If you’re in Michigan the wise people walk the lakeshore while the crazies get in the water of Lake Michigan. Air temp 90, water temp 58.
And if you plan on staying…do bring a chair. I can’t get down and back up from the sand…well…from any floor level. So a chair is a must have for me. I also find that wearing sneakers down to my chair area helps greatly. But I agree….walking in the wet sand is terrific. Not the dry for me as the uneveness causes to much stress on my ankles but the wet sand is a bit more firm and works great with bare feet if i am not in any kind of flare. I also love the water shoes. They are a must for pool swimming or beach going as well.