Swimming to Stay Fit

Recently I had to come face to face with my future in a way that still makes me wonder in contemplation. It came at a time when had stopped swimming for a while and decided to jog instead thinking I should change up my exercise routine from time to time. I did The Beast workout for toning and running for cardio. My hip would pop and makes noises, but I didn’t think anything of it until the pain started. I got an x-ray done of my hip and found out that I don’t have muscle stiffness, as I suspected, but osteoarthritis. My doctor said that I have a mild case of it, but that didn’t make the diagnosis anymore palatable. I tried to determine when the pain began and realized that it was after an ATV accident I suffered on one of my family vacations to Los Cabos, Mexico.

Although, the news was not what I would have preferred to hear, I knew that I had to do what I try to do with everything in my life – I had to embrace it all. With this type of attitude, you just go right to work dealing with things that come your way in a thoughtful, well-informed, prayerful sort of way.

Let me say for the record, I would still get back on an ATV, and I would still go back to Cabos.

What is osteoarthritis?

‘Often called “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of the disease. In OA, joint cartilage breaks down over time, causing symptoms like joint pain and stiffness. There are several factors that can lead to joint damage, like repetitive movement (also known as “wear and tear”) or injury. Eventually, this leads to erosion of joint cartilage. Cartilage is important because it acts as a shock absorber, allowing the joint to move smoothly. As cartilage breaks down, the joint may lose its normal shape and, eventually, the ends of the bones may begin to rub together, causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint.’ – ARTHRITIS.COM

How Do You Deal?

In speaking to my doctor I discovered that dealing with this issue has a counter-intuitive solution. One would think that if you have a problem regarding “wear and tear” that continuing to move would only makes things worse. Of course, this is in some ways true, however, stopping all movements at the joint is ill-advised. In fact, moving helps to keep the area flexible and stable especially when the surrounding muscles are strengthened.  Some of the best exercises and therapies for these types of problems are walking, yoga, and swimming. Swimming is a great way to work on the surrounding muscles and increase mobility of the joint.  I knew that swimming was ideal for this ailment because when I was in the water, I didn’t even know I had arthritis. It was only when i momentarily stopped swimming, as when I changed up my routine, that I felt any pain. There were times in the past when my back was so stiff I could barely stand, yet, once I dove into the water, I’d straighten out as if my body was as malleable as rubber.

What types of foods are good for this ailment?

With these types of ailments, diet can play a major role in managing symptoms. One way is to eat foods that reduce inflammation. Inflammation is often the soreness that we experience in the joint area. Some foods that fall into this category, but not all, are those that are as close to nature as possible. Try eating anti-inflammatory foods and you’re hopefully notice a reduction in pain. I like eating this way myself because these foods do not upset my stomach like some processed foods do.

Another great way of relieving pain, is to lessen the stress placed on the joints. In other words, weight loss is a key factor. If you have pain in the knee area, for example, excess weight can over tax that area and increase the speed at which the cartilage erodes. For me, weight loss and swimming go hand in hand because I lose twenty-five pounds without even trying. My weight loss may have stayed off further erosion of my hip joint in its initial inception. You can lose weight fast swimming because it practically uses every muscle in the body. Swimming Muscles. As you move through the water using a standard stroke such as the front crawl, breaststroke, backstroke or butterfly, you’re using virtually all your muscles from head to toe. … Lower-body muscles include your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes. Swimming also requires the use of your core muscles.’ – livehealthy.chron.com/swimming-work-muscle-3713.HTML

Living the good life!

As we age, many of us will be confronted with things we never thought we’d ever have to face. Sometimes, on these occasions, I like to wait and see what new technology comes along, ones that allow us to meet a challenge more efficiently and effectively. Regarding arthritis, I’m looking forward to something that can restore cartilage in a much more organic way rather than steroids and some other treatments that can help and harm you at the same time. I’m sure I’m not alone in this quest because 66% of Americans are diagnosed with this and some just decide to live with the pain. (Reference from Arthritis.com) I understand because I don’t wish to be poked and prodded and medicated beyond reason either.

When all is said and done, I love to look on the bright side of everything that occurs in my life. In this regard, I imagine that because of my aches and pains I’ll have to work on managing and maintaining a healthy body. I’ll always have that as an incentive. I’d like to think that I don’t have a choice, but of course I do, we all do. We can choose to do nothing and hopefully it’ll get better or we can fight for our health as if our lives depend on it.

I know that swimming doesn’t solve everything, but let’s face it, in this case, it’s an absolute winner!

Go swim!





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