Dance therapy is here to help OA patients cope with joint pain and its side-effects, like depression or anxiety. Less monotonous than routine workouts, dance is a desirable option for people with OA.
This degenerative condition results from wear and tear of the soft, thin articular cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in weight-bearing joints and enables frictionless body movements. Ageing, heredity, injury, obesity, and physical workloads are some of the leading causes of OA. Symptoms could vary from inflammation and swelling of the joints to complete loss of motion. Women are generally more predisposed to OA than men for reasons like increased elasticity of some of the fibrous connective tissues and angled hip-knee alignment, that brings more stress to one’s joints.
Traditionally, medics have encouraged OA patients to engage in various forms of strength training (for e.g., weight training, resistance exercises) to activate skeletal muscle fibres and improve overall muscle strength. Besides hand-held weights and elastic resistance bands, people with OA are increasingly turning to dance fitness to burn calories, cut excess flab to minimize the load on joints, and energize muscles while relieving joint pain to a great extent.
*Consult your doctor and/ or physician, before you indulge in any dance exercises or therapy, to know what works best for your Osteoarthritis condition.
Low-impact dance exercises are recommended for OA patients (i.e. No fast swings, hip-hop grooves, complicated twists & turns, nor strong hand gripping), to make sure that the joints are not subject to any kind of stress. Professional dancers and choreographers with empathy for people with OA and understanding of OA therapy can suitably customize dance moves, based on the specific needs of each individual; they can even slow down the dance routine if it causes additional pain.
Many dance studios are offering dance fitness lessons along with their regular fare; and unlike some monotonous gym routines, dance is more like an exercise disguised as fun, which helps divert one’s attention away from an aching knee or painful hip.
Slowed-down versions of Zumba, belly dancing, hip-hop minus jumps or any slow simple dance movements are known to have a positive effect on affected joints, apart from helping patients cope with the side-effects like depression as well as anxiety.
There are many simple dance moves that almost anyone can practice. For instance, people who have trouble standing up for long periods of time can do some arm moves, while being seated. Fusion exercises that blend dancing and a cardio workout with strength training, using hand-held lightweights are also in vogue.
Many dance fitness classes offer curated videos and it might be a good idea to get a head-start by attending such a program at least twice a week, until one develops the confidence to work out with dance videos at home.
So, put on your dancing shoes and dance the blues away! Before you do so, have a word with your doctor and/ or physical therapist, to know how dance therapy can help with OA-related pain.
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