Home Arthriving IdeasDance Your Way to Better Health
Dance Your Way to Better Health
January 9, 2012
Dancing is a fun activity for people of all ability levels, but it can also be a great form of exercise for people with arthritis.
Kathi Shuck, a former professional dancer and the owner/instructor at Kathi's Dance Studio in Pennsylvania, has seen the benefits of dance in both her personal and professional lives. And while she has osteoarthritis, she will not let it overtake her passion. "As a professional dancer, I've done all styles of dance, including tap, ballet, pointe, jazz, and acrobatics," she says. "At age 60, I'm still teaching those same types of dance four days a week at my dance studio. From decades of being in a turned-out position in ballet and doing acrobatics, I have my share of arthritis in my hips, knees, back, and neck, but I make sure arthritis pain doesn't hold me back."
For Kathi, lower-impact dancing exercises are best, and, as a professional, she would recommend these styles of dance to others with arthritis pain, as long as their doctors give them the go-ahead. "The stretching exercises and warm-ups in jazz and ballet benefit me the most," Kathi says. "I incorporate a lot of yoga movements into my warm-ups as well. Yoga helps me with my lower back and shoulders. Pliés and barre exercises in ballet help strengthen and stretch the lower body, as well as stretching on the floor. Breathe and relax through all of the movements â€” but just keep moving. Put on music that you enjoy and move! It's great for the body and spirit."
The keys to dancing with arthritis are moderation and caution. Always keep your abilities, limitations, and restrictions in mind, and listen to your body. Start slowly, and don't put too much pressure on your knees. Wear a knee brace or special shoes if you need to, and inform the dance instructor of your limitations. Dances that involve a partner could work well, as you can lean or grasp onto them for greater support and to take some of the pressure off your joints. Also, make sure to consult your doctor or physical therapist before starting any dance program.
Dancing can be a great way to improve mobility and joint pain, even when limited by knee pain associated with arthritis. How have you danced your way to greater health and fitness? Let us know in the comments section.
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