Make Your Summer More Rheumatoid Arthritis-Friendly

Worried about your rheumatoid arthritis ruining your vacation away? Don’t despair! These tips will keep you having fun in the sun no matter what you do, minus the pain.

Katie Alberts
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Exploring a new city
Scope out the elevation.
While guidebooks and maps can help you gauge distance, to know how hilly your destination is, look at an aerial view or topographical map. You can also use the “Webcam” and “Terrain” features at before you leave.
Carry a “cane stool” for long lines. For $30-$40, you can pick up a cane that unfolds into a small, sturdy chair—perfect when you’re stuck waiting on line with no seating in sight!
Upgrade your day bag.
If using a traditional backpack strains your arms and shoulders, switch to a dressy “belt bag”—an updated, stylish version of a fanny pack—or an ergonomic sling bag you can slide up and down your shoulder when needed.
Record memories with a camera extender. Shoulder pain can make it tricky to hold out a camera to take a photo of yourself and your buddies together, but new lightweight extenders let you photograph yourself anywhere.
Keep changing pace.
“When you’re traveling in hot weather, frequently vary your pace, exerting yourself  for a few minutes, then taking it easy for a longer stretch,” recommends Mary Felstiner, author of Out of Joint: A Private and Public Story of Arthritis. “Alternating your pace ‘fools your joints’ and gives you the most overall stamina.”

A trip to the spa or pool
Ask about tub accessibility. Looking forward to the hot tub or jet pool? Call ahead to make sure there are rails or steps that make them usable for you.
Try tai chi.
According to the Journal of Rheumatology, tai chi’s gentle series of movements can relieve stiffness and make it easier to perform daily tasks.
Take a “water walking” class
Walking back and forth across a pool (on your own or in a guided class) gives you a great aerobic and muscle-building workout. And because of the water’s buoyancy, there’s no stress on your joints. 

May 2014