Okay, so in the last couple of posts, I have spoken about how the situation we are in (COVID-19/lockdown) has had a detrimental effect on the calf muscle I had been working to build up.
Strength training can, at times, be complex. Strength training with arthritis is even more difficult there often needs to be modifications to standard exercises dependant on which joints you have arthritis in.
That should not put you off though, strength training, in my opinion, is pretty much imperative to being able to live comfortably with arthritis. It becomes more important as we age also, aids joint strength, flexibility and bone health.
Since gyms, like many other businesses, have been told to close until further notice it has left a void which as I mentioned has caused my calf muscle to start retreating.
One of the things I have noticed whilst having arthritis is that the stronger your muscles around the affected joint, the more comfortable and pain-free you will be.
That also means that whilst you are pain-free the majority of the time you can then make improvements in terms of flexibility in the joint(s).
So why am I so obsessed with just the calf and not the whole leg?
Well, the truth is I am obsessed with the whole leg, hell I’m obsessed with the entire body being the strongest it can be!
The reason I talk a lot about the calf is for the first couple of years after my accident there was basically no muscle in it. It was essentially jelly, give it a slap at the end of summer it might not have stopped jiggling until Christmas!
Maybe an exaggeration but you get my point.
It was during these years I was in the most pain, I was taking painkillers, I was unstable when walking, I had pain in adjacent joints and it was then I was suffering from anxiety and agoraphobia.
As you can see strength training has provided me with unbelievable benefits
The regeneration of the calf muscle was such a slow and tedious process as some of you may know it isn’t an easy muscle to develop for a lot of people.
So that being said, the idea of having to go through the whole process again would be a touch soul-destroying. Not only that but unsurprisingly since the muscle has weakened I have experienced more pain, stiffness, swelling and been limping more.
Compared to what I had become accustomed to, this was completely unacceptable.
So what can I do?
Do the work, do the f*****g work
I have always thought that my determination and tenacity are the reason I have been able to live comfortably with this disease and make the improvements I have.
With that in mind, I plunged myself into research, I looked for exercises to do at home, exercises for building calf muscle, workouts without gym equipment and all other things such as that.
I even dug out our old Wii Fit Board and me and my wife spent some days of lockdown playing on that!
During my search, I came across a YouTube channel that has been an absolute LIFESAVER! Or muscle saver at least. I will leave a link to the channel at the end of this post so you can make your way across and take a look for yourself.
There is no cost to it, I am not telling you to buy anything. It’s a YouTube channel so it’s FREE advice, not to sound corny but the only thing I am recommending you invest in it is your time.
Athlean-X is a business created by Jeff Cavaliere, his about page on the website will list his credentials.
Highlights of which include working as Head Physical Therapist and Assistant Strength Coach for the New York Mets and he is a certified strength and conditioning specialist.
Jeff has endorsements/testimonials from people such as Sylvester Stallone, American wrestler Sting, Greg Jennings NFL player, amongst others.
He has a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy and Bachelor of Science in Physioneurobiology / Premedicine. As you can see he knows his stuff, he isn’t just some half-fit bloke posting a load of videos making ridiculous claims.
As expected for a former Head Physical Therapist he has a fantastic knowledge of the inner workings of all the muscles and joints. It is the scientific information he applies to each demonstrated exercise that makes his videos so compelling.
Here is a video showing the exercises I have been able to do today at home for those all-important calves of mine.
The beauty of Jeff’s exercises is that they don’t really require any equipment besides things you can find in your own home. He also provides modifications for you depending on what level you are at.
The videos are a good watch, you get the benefit of Jeff’s many years of experience and training as well as some light relief provided by Jesse his training partner/crash test dummy.
Obviously he covers more areas than calves, in fact, he covers every area so you should be able to find some exercises that you can use to help you build up that strength and keep pain at bay.
He even does videos about posture like the one below.
If you start to think you want to perform the exercises remember to approach with caution as with any workout. Start light and work your way up and more importantly listen to what he says and perform the exercise exactly as he describes.
I say this because he often goes into detail about things like hand placement or what position joints should be in to isolate certain muscles you are attempting to work.
I have found it incredibly useful having these videos to follow, it can be hard when you’ve been doing so well and then something comes out the blue and halts your progress even putting you into reverse.
This time that we are having to spend at home means we have to get creative in order to keep moving forward and progressing with our fight against chronic pain.
The link below will take you to the Athlean-X YouTube homepage click the subscribe button, again it’s free and you will never miss a video I think new ones get uploaded on a Sunday.