I’m newly divorced, lost a lot of weight because of the “divorce diet.” Now that I’m feeling better emotionally and getting my appetite back I need to start a regular workout routine that will help me maintain my weight loss.
Here is my problem, I have arthritis in my neck which causes neck and shoulder pain on a daily basis. The pain is worse when I use my upper body during exercise. Do you have any suggestions for gentle exercises I can do to keep my upper body toned without also causing the pain from the arthritis to flare up?
Congratulations on getting over this big hump, getting your appetite back, and making the decision to start exercising regularly. Arthritis in your neck can be very debilitating, but continuing to stay active and using these muscles, as well as the rest of your upper and lower body, will be beneficial.
Not knowing what you were doing which was causing your worsening pain, I am going to make recommendations based on where you’re experiencing discomfort. For now, I would like to see you use 12 oz cans of soup as your weights. As you become stronger and can use your upper body without pain, you may progress to 1lb weights, and increase cautiously every few weeks.
The key here is to take it slowly to completely evaluate how your body is responding to each new increase.
1.) Holding a can in each hand, standing with feet shoulder width apart and knees bent, bring your shoulders up to your ears and lower. Repeat 12 times for 3 sets.
2.) Same position as above, shoulder shrugs backwards for 12, forward for 12, 2 sets each.
3.) Sitting in a chair, arms down at your sides, lift your arms laterally to each side, until they are parallel to the floor. Do not bring your shoulders up to your ears, keep them relaxed and pressing down. Repeat 12 times for 3 sets.
4.) Same position in chair, bicep curl with palms facing in towards each other and elbows kept close to the side of your body. Again, very important to keep your shoulders relaxed. Repeat 12 times for 3 sets.
5.) With no weights or cans, either sitting or standing, bring your chin down to your chest, then back up to neutral only, 10 times. Repeat this slow movement bringing your head side to side.
You should also focus on overall fitness training in addition to specific strength training, including cardiovascular exercise and a well rounded lower body and core program. This comprehensive approach to fitness will support pain control in your shoulders and neck as well.
If your job requires you to sit for long periods of time in front of a computer, it is especially important for you to take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch. Good luck!!